Earlier this year Mark Tutssel was named Executive Chairman of Leo Burnett Worldwide. Tasked with “igniting the collective firepower of the global network”, Tutssel’s ascension to the top spot made him the first creative leader of the agency since Leo Burnett held the reins.
At the time of his appointment, Tutssel said: “It is a tremendous honor and responsibility to live up to the ideals of Leo Burnett himself and deliver them in a new age of technology and opportunity.”
Under his creative leadership at Leo Burnett over the years he’s overseen award-winning creative work for some of the world’s most iconic brands, including Samsung, P&G, McDonald’s and Coca-Cola to name just a few.
Branding in Asia recently spoke with Mark Tutssel about what he’s been up to of late, the power of music in advertising, staying “hands-on”, and more.
What’s been keeping you busy lately?
I’ve just returned from Leo Burnett’s Global Product Committee (GPC) in Shanghai, where I met with some of the top creative and strategic minds from across the region to review our network’s output from the past quarter.
Creativity Without Borders is our operating system and the GPC is the interface, giving our talent from all corners of the world a role in making sure the standard for our work is nothing short of Best in the World — Bar None.
The best brand marketers are steeped in brand purpose and use their own brand language to deliver engaging stories and experiences that unfold in a myriad of places, across every consumer touchpoint.
While in China I also had the chance to meet with some of our clients in this very important and dynamic market. We recently won the creative assignment for Cathay Pacific, which is a tremendous piece of new business. On top of that, Leo Burnett also just won the global visual display business for Samsung, which is a hugely exciting opportunity that will keep us very busy.
You spoke a few years back about the return of the jingle. I remember jingles from my childhood word for word, but I can’t recall anything recently. What’s happening with my jingles?
While it might manifest differently in our work these days, music still has a hugely powerful role in our creative output. We ignore its potency at our peril — the great director Tony Kaye once said that while the moving image fills a screen, music fills an entire room.
While the tried-and-true jingle is around even today, and will likely live on for years to come, I think we should be even more excited about the ways we can make music a more prominent character in our storytelling.
Consider the Apple HomePod “Welcome Home” campaign, which created an emotional connection through incredibly compelling song and dance, which were the stars of the show. There are so many rich and rewarding ways we can weave the power of music into our work.
You’ve spent a fair amount of time at the leadership helm at Leo Burnett. As a creative, how do you keep it interesting for yourself?
We work in an industry that’s been evolving at such a furious pace that it’s never not interesting. The incredible tools and technology at our disposal are fresh canvases we can tap to make our work more engaging and rewarding.
You can’t involve yourself in everything, but I still have plenty of opportunities to make an impact, which is “hands-on” enough for me.
I’m also inspired by the scale of problems that our industry can help solve right now, and the potential we all have to create work that impacts humanity and creates a better future. I had the honor of presiding over the inaugural Sustainable Development Goals Lions jury at Cannes this year, and was awed by the myriad ways creativity is being applied to tackle the world’s greatest challenges.
Working in lockstep with major marketers and against the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals helps ensure our work is purposeful and addressing the most urgent issues. While we still have a long way to go, there isn’t any doubt that our industry can make a seismic impact for our planet, and that should interest us all.
I would imagine it’s difficult to be more hands-on in the creative process. Do you miss that?
When I took the job as Chief Creative Officer for Leo Burnett Worldwide, I had to get used to the idea of working in a new way but I’ve always stayed as close to the work. You can’t involve yourself in everything, but I still have plenty of opportunities to make an impact, which is “hands-on” enough for me.
Our GPC system helps me keep my finger on the pulse of our product, so I’m always highly engaged with what we’re delivering for clients. The GPC also helps establish a global standard of excellence for that product, which is an important part of my role in the larger creative process.
What is some recent work from Leo Burnett that you’re most proud of?
Our product is continually evolving, and three of my favorite new pieces speak to some of the inventive ways our creative solutions are taking shape in this era. Leo Burnett Sri Lanka and Toronto worked in partnership with JAT Holdings to create “Petal Paint,” a revolutionary new paint that uses pigment from natural flowers left at altars to preserve ancient temple art.
Not only does it create beauty from something culturally significant, it reduces waste by turning something that would have ended up in a landfill into a beautiful product that the public can enjoy. This HumanKind act symbolizes the impermanent nature of life, or samsara.
I’m also tremendously excited about a highly innovative new product from Leo Burnett Berlin that’s quite simply the future of urban mobility. The team launched a masterfully engineered, beautifully designed electric scooter called UJET.
It’s connected, compact, and a product that promises to revolutionize the way we move around cities. I couldn’t be more proud that this remarkable piece of technology originated from our network.
Finally, Leo Burnett Tailor Made in Sao Paulo has created an immersive cinema experience that takes perfect pictures of the audience in the dark. A simple, effective, and unexpected way to demonstrate the product benefit and the amazing quality of the Samsung Galaxy S9 camera in low light.
Back in 2010, you said “The brands with the best story and an effective narrative win.” What are your thoughts today where the consumer space is far more complex for brands to navigate for resonance?
2010 seems like a century ago, measured against the change our industry has experienced, but I would argue that’s still true. The brands that are winning in the marketplace today understand they need to be useful and relevant. They know they need to create products, tools and services that solve problems, and they use their marketing to serve consumers, not just sell.
While it might manifest differently in our work these days, music still has a hugely powerful role in our creative output. We ignore its potency at our peril.
Being truly consumer-centric today means going much deeper than offering a product or service that people want. They need to understand human behavior – how people think, feel and behave. The goal is to always create “human value.”
The best brand marketers are steeped in brand purpose and use their own brand language to deliver engaging stories and experiences that unfold in a myriad of places, across every consumer touchpoint. The power of emotional storytelling should never be underestimated.