When to take my name off the door

When to take my name off the door - image for article by Greg Alder

In the 1990s I worked for one of the world’s great advertising agencies, Leo Burnett.

I worked in the Sydney office. I worked in the Mexico City office. I made frequent trips to the Chicago office. I visited the Taipei office and the Hong Kong office, the New York office and the Miami office. I met my peers from offices in Poland, the UK, Argentina, Brazil, Malaysia, Italy, Germany and South Africa amongst others.

There was a strong corporate culture. It was a culture created by the founder, Leo Burnett, and kept alive many decades after his death.

Leo wasn’t just a good copywriter. He was passionate about his craft. He had ethics. He had opinions. He was quotable.

On December 1, 1967, he made a speech to agency staff. That speech is famous amongst Leo Burnett staff and alumni.

It was called “When to take my name off the door”.

When to take my name off the door

It was a speech about advertising. But really, it is a speech about courage, commitment, ethics, energy and values.

The messages are as valid for today’s accountants, computer engineers, telecoms providers, charities or newspaper publishers (basically any enterprise) as they were for that advertising agency forty-eight years ago.

If you haven’t heard his speech (animated here for the agency’s 75th birthday), do yourself a favour and watch. If you’ve seen it before, I recommend you watch it again. And keep watching it every few years to keep you honest, focussed and passionate.

Watch it here.

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