When To Take Your Name Off The Door

To celebrate Leo Burnett Worldwide’s 75th anniversary, Brazilian graphic design and animation studio animated spot based on a 1967 year-end speech in which the agency’s founder announced his retirement.

The video is very well done and does a great job of bringing the speech to life, but this post isn’t about the video. It’s about the speech itself.

For the unfamiliar, Leo Burnett was an incredibly successful advertising executive and founder of the Leo Burnett Company. He’s responsible for the Jolly Green Giant, Toucan Sam, Tony the Tiger and the 7UP spot… among many other well-recognized and well-loved names.

But as you can tell by the video, Burnett didn’t define success by the popularity of his ad campaigns. And neither should you.

For Burnett, the essence of his business – of his brand – wasn’t in money or office size or hierarchy. It was in creativity, passion, results he stood behind, humility, integrity, respect, and strong and vital ideas.

My favorite line is this: “[Take my name off the door] when you start giving lip service to this being a ‘creative agency’ and stop really being one.”

Wow. When you get too comfortable, you get lazy. You lose passion and your work becomes a product, not a creation.

When you start giving lip service to your company and stop doing what you set out to do… When you start talking more than you act… When you fall into the trap of believing your reputation will carry you through… Take your name off the door.

If you believe in what you’re doing and want to keep your name there, that’s the most important dream of all. And you have everything it takes. Continue to evolve. Meet expectations. Be iconic.

And, to paraphrase Leo Burnett, keep your passion for thoroughness and good, hard, wonderful work, and never lose that restless feeling that nothing you do is ever quite good enough.

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