Chief Creative Officer, Leo Burnett Chicago
Every agency says it wants “to do great creative,” but for Chief Creative Officer Susan Credle, it’s the reason why that matters.
“Great creative has to build helpful, meaningful brands for the long-term,” she says. “That’s the sum of what we at Leo Burnett do, and what I’ve set out to do my entire career.”
It’s a career that began — and we swear we’re not cribbing a plotline from Mad Men — covering the phones for receptionists at BBDO New York during their bathroom breaks.
Susan soon, though, began sharing her ideas with the creative department, and “three months later, I got on a desk as an assistant. A year later I became a junior writer.”
By the time she joined Leo Burnett in the fall of 2009, she had risen at BBDO to EVP Executive Creative Director. She was known throughout the advertising industry for her reinvention and 15-year stewardship of M&M’s iconic characters as well as for helping to launch Cingular Wireless and ultimately turn it into a leader brand.
These experiences, along with consistently awarded work for such clients as Pepsi, FedEx, Lowe’s, Bank of America and Visa, taught her the value of breathing new life into rather than discarding brand equities while at the same time starting legacies for the next generation.
“I also learned that companies can do large-scale communications that benefit their brands and the world,” she says.
Sharing these lessons with both veteran creatives and the top new talent she has attracted to Leo Burnett, Susan has spearheaded a creative renaissance at the agency. Her leadership, inspiration and in-the-trenches contributions have led to legacy-respecting yet forward-looking campaigns for Leo Burnett clients like McDonald’s, Allstate, Kellogg’s, P&G, Sealy and Invesco.
Susan’s work on Happy Meal “Happy Tales” campaign, for example, is helping to bring together groundbreaking artists and musicians to give kids and parents quality storytelling while allowing McDonald’s to return the brand to its iconic roots.
For P&G’s Secret, she has overseen a “Mean Stinks” campaign that has inspired thousands of teenage girls to share their stories, advice and friendship in an effort to wipe out bullying — and given the deodorant brand meaning in their lives.
And then, of course, there’s Allstate’s “Mayhem,” one of the most beloved and talked-about campaigns in years.
“We don’t have a house style,” Susan likes to say. “The work should all look unique, because each of our clients is unique.”