Leo Burnett chief denies Motive merger

Leo Burnett’s vice-chairman and chief operating officer has written an open letter to Marketing Week to quash speculation that Motive Communications – 49 per cent owned by Leo Burnett – will be folded into Leo Burnett’s new global media brand Starcom.

Roger Haupt says he is going on record with a formal statement of how Leo Burnett sees the future development of its media business, in order to make the company’s position clear.

Motive says it has found it more difficult to win new business and recruit new staff because of the misleading assumptions over its future, following Burnett’s purchase of a 49 per cent stake in its parent, Bartle Bogle Hegarty, in January last year.

Haupt says in the letter: “Motive is exclusively managed by the BBH Group. There is no intention, nor are there any options, to increase Leo Burnett’s 49 per cent stake in BBH.

“BBH, and therefore Motive, will remain operationally separate to any part of the Leo Burnett Company. Our investment in the BBH Group, and by definition Motive, was born out of the value of having a completely separate and complementary investment to our core Leo Burnett business.”

Mark Cranmer, managing director of Motive, says: “Leo Burnett will run its business and we will run ours.” He says the two will only come together at an international level, when Motive will have access to Leo Burnett’s global resources.

Cranmer is expected to become a Starcom director, representing the media interests of the BBH Group at a global level. In the UK, Starcom is expected to launch in April with Leo Burnett media directors David Connolly and Richard Beaven as joint heads of the new operation.

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