Despite the loss of Oldsmobile, Leo Burnett Worldwide will keep its ties to an automotive client, thanks to Fiat.
Leo Burnett is Fiat's agency of record in 24 countries in Asia, Europe and South America. The company, which is based in Turin, Italy, is the world's 18th-largest marketer advertising outside the United States, according to ACNielsen market research, dishing out $648 million in 1999 non-U.S. media spending. Most of Fiat's spending is concentrated in regions where Leo Burnett pitches its ads.
Also, because of Fiat's new equity ties with the agency's longtime client, General Motors, there is speculation that a Fiat re-entry into the United States is possible in coming years. Fiat currently tallies only $3 million in U.S. media spending, none of it with Leo Burnett.
While Linda Wolf, the worldwide agency's CEO, is not commenting on future plans with Fiat's brand or the possibility of acquiring a new U.S.-based auto client, she is confident the Chicago-based shop will thrive. 'We are always continuing to bring in new businesses,' she says.
As proof that she will be aggressive, Wolf only needs to point to her record as head of U.S. operations. In 1999, Leo Burnett's billings totaled $7.6 billion worldwide, $3.5 billion coming from the U.S. arm. The U.S. figures represent a 14 percent increase from 1998 and are due in part to the 13 new clients the agency recruited that year under Wolf's direction. The company predicts the 2000 figures will show similar growth.