Dynamic Marketing Communiqué

A bowl of apples a day keeps the critics away! Check out this marketer’s strategy to welcome visitors and clients! [Monday: Marketing Marvels]

March 21, 2022

Miles Everson’s Business Builder Daily speaks to the heart of what great marketers, business leaders, and other professionals need to succeed in advertising, communications, managing their investments, career strategy, and more.

A Note from Miles Everson:

Happy Monday, everyone!

How was your weekend? We hope you had restful days off with your loved ones.

Let’s welcome this day with inspiration from the world’s “Marketing Marvels”―outstanding people in the field of marketing, communications, business, etc.

Every Monday, we highlight these people because we believe it’s good for us to gain motivation from them by learning about their work, insights, and experiences.

Let’s talk about one of the world’s marketing legends for today’s article.

Continue reading to know more about this person’s contributions and influences in the marketing industry.

Miles Everson
CEO, MBO Partners
Chairman of the Advisory Board, The I Institute

Marketing Marvels

Tony The Tiger.

The Marlboro Man.

The Maytag Repairman.

These are some of the marketing industry’s most well-known campaigns in the 20th century. Created for Kellogg’s, Marlboro, and Maytag, these characters gave a face and personality to the brands they represented.

Are you aware that all these successful campaigns came from the ideas of one marketer?

That person is…

Leo Burnett! (October 21, 1891 – June 7, 1971)

Burnett was an advertising executive who is also the founder of marketing agency Leo Burnett Company, Inc. He created the marketing characters and campaigns mentioned above, and established positive and lasting relationships with multinational clients such as:

… and more.

In 1999, Burnett was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the 20th century.

A Marketing Legend

Burnett was born on October 21, 1891 in St. Johns, Michigan. His father owned a dry goods store and as a young man, he worked with his father in designing ads for their business.

After finishing high school, he studied Journalism at the University of Michigan and received his Bachelor’s Degree in 1914. His first job was a reporter for the Peoria Journal Star in Illinois.

Three years later, he left his job as a reporter, moved to Detroit, and wrote advertising copies for 2 auto manufacturers and 2 advertising agencies. This exposed him to the ins and outs of the marketing world and in 1935, he established his own firm in Chicago.

However, this proved to be one of Burnett’s most challenging endeavors…

A Bold Risk in the Midst of the Great Depression

The Great Depression had a firm grip on Chicago in 1935… BUT that didn’t stop Burnett from starting his own company, which only had 8 employees―including him―at that time.

When he opened the doors of his 8-man office, there were talks on the street that he and his team wouldn’t make it through the year. Only 3 clients stayed and enlisted the advertising services of the company for more than a decade.

Their reason?

They believed in Burnett’s goal: To create advertising that “talked turkey to the majority of Americans.”

Despite having a lot of critics and hearing lots of comments that he and his company wouldn’t have “the big break,” Burnett continued pursuing his goal. He gave his best in all the work he did for his clients and served as a good role model for his small team.

Here’s another factor that helped his company succeed and thrive amid and beyond the economical crisis:

bowl of apples at the reception desk!

Photo from Chicagology

Long before the idea of corporate culture became a thing, Burnett had already created a work environment that distinguished itself from all other ad agencies during his time.

As a means of making a unique visitor experience in his office, he gave away apples to everyone who would go through his office door.

Yes, he popularized apples even before Steve Jobs did!

However, many critics saw this as another opportunity to point out Burnett’s “folly.” They said,

“It won’t be long ‘til Leo Burnett is selling apples on the street instead of giving them away.”

With what we know today, their harsh comments didn’t become a reality.

Burnett’s wit, creativity, resourcefulness, strategy, and bowl of apples proved them wrong. In fact, those who went to the office and received apples liked the experience and warm treatment, which led to word of mouth!

Soon after, the office, which was then named Leo Burnett Company, was shortlisted as one of the “Best Places in the World to Work.” This exposure led to more multinational clients and the creation of some of the iconic marketing campaigns like:

  • United’s “Fly the Friendly Skies”
  • Kellogg’s “Snap! Crackle! Pop!” slogan
  • StarKist’s “Charlie The Tuna”
  • The Pillsbury Doughboy
  • The Jolly Green Giant
  • Allstate’s “You’re in Good Hands” slogan

In 1948, the firm’s billings exceeded USD 10 million and 10 years later, its billings further exceeded USD 90 million. Today, the Leo Burnett Company is one of the largest advertising agencies in the US and employs over 9,000 people in 85 offices worldwide.

Who would’ve thought that determination, passion, perseverance, and a bowl of apples would lead to that?

We have no words to say other than, “Congratulations, Leo Burnett and team!”

We salute you for showing that in creativity and marketing, having the courage to take strategic risks sometimes outperforms conventional wisdom.

*Clap clap clap*

Aside from his contributions and influences in the marketing industry, Burnett was one of the pioneers of the “Chicago School of Advertising.”

The objective of the organization was to build an advertisement around the inherent importance or appeal of a product itself rather than around clever copy or a catchy slogan. He detested “slick” advertising that he felt was typical of New York agencies. He even scrapped a campaign that had already been accepted by a client because he was not satisfied with its quality!

This just shows that he took his job seriously, with a goal not only to make money out of his brilliant ideas but also to serve his customers and clients with utmost care and importance.

May Burnett’s life and experiences in the marketing industry inspire you to be your own “Marketing Marvel!”

With a proper perspective, dedication, optimism, creativity, and strategy, you can also help foster a bright corporate culture that instills a positive vision on your colleagues’, customers’, and clients’ minds.

Have an awesome start to the week!

P.S. Until today, a bowl of delicious apples still sits on the reception desk in every Leo Burnett office around the world. This reminds employees of the legacy and values of their founder, Leo Burnett.

(This article is from The Business Builder Daily, a newsletter by The I Institute in collaboration with MBO Partners.)

About The Dynamic Marketing Communiqué’s
“Monday Marketing Marvels”

Too often, industry experts and the marketing press sing the praises of some brand or company’s marketing strategy.

… only for the audience to later find out that its product was a flop, or worse, that the brand or company went bankrupt.

The true ROI in marketing can’t be separated from the business as a whole.

What good is a marketing case study if one can’t prove that the company’s efforts actually paid off?

At the end of the day, either the entire business is successful or it isn’t. And the roles of marketing and communication are always paramount to that success.

Every Monday, we publish a case study that highlights the world’s greatest marketing strategies, marketers, and communicators.

However, the difference between our articles and the numerous ones out there is that we will always make certain that the firm really did generate and demonstrate earning power worthy of study in the first place (compliments of Valens Research’s finance group) in keeping with a person’s leadership skills in the area of marketing and/or communication.

We’ll also study the greatest marketing fails and analyze what they did wrong, or what they needed to improve. We all make our mistakes, but better we learn from others’ mistakes—and earlier, rather than later.

Hope you found this week’s marketing marvel interesting and helpful.

Stay tuned for next week’s Monday Marketing Marvels!


Kyle Yu
Head of Marketing
Valens Dynamic Marketing Capabilities
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