Every ad agency will tell you it's all about the creative. So it's ironic that most agency websites are just credential books online. Our original Leo Burnett site included.

For our brief we took a hard look at our existing site. We hadn’t touched it in years; we were embarrassed that it was so corporate.

We knew the new leoburnett.ca had to be nothing short of brilliant so we set out to build an agency site like no one has ever seen before.

The Objective

There was a small team making decisions. A clean slate creatively, our peers as clients.

Our objective was to have other agencies scrambling to redesign their sites. We owed it to the industry.

Lots of ideas were thrown around in idea sessions. Here’s what we promised ourselves.

• To focus on creative, the best creative

• Anything but corporate – but honor our Leo Burnett culture

• Abandon traditional navigation

Going Back In Time

We reached back - 70 years back - to familiar symbols that generations of Burnetters have revered.

Leo Burnett apples, stars and big pencils have been used a million ways over the years, but like all good icons, they have a timeless relevance, a story.

The trick was to make them contemporary. Two creative symbols stood out: Leo's handwritten signature; and the big black pencil, which Leo saw as a metaphor for big ideas.

The Big Idea

The idea was to use these symbols in a very unique space, driven and defined by experiential navigation, not architecture.

We envisioned a site with a multi-layered, multi-dimensional space - a kind of 3-D, minimalist, black & white canvas, where users explore the content randomly instead of going down a linear path - cartography, not architecture.

Realising the Idea

Making it happen took tons of experimentation and the power of Flash 7. Leo's signature evolved into the mother ship to which our creative work was docked.

The black pencil acts as a dynamic cursor that leaves an organic pencil trail in its wake, pencil drawing SFX included. Apples and stars house "Leo wisdoms" which explode to life on mouse-over. And users are drawn-in by the seductive lateral and zooming movements of the entire space.

Attention to Detail

Attention to detail was imperative.

The pencil is in broken into multiple parts and coordinates to allow for changes in perspective as it moves; The audio is split into left and right channels so there's a Doppler quality to the sound effects, adding to the sense of dimension and space.

Case by Case

The same level of attention was devoted to the individual creative cases. Each is introduced with an animated feature, a unique visual idea supports the creative or brand idea showcased.

Click on the Visa logo, for example, and you trigger shoes walking through frame as they do in the "Shoes" spot in the TV section. Shot individually, the shoes were then masked over a frame-by-frame animation of five different people walking to give each pair its own character.

In the P&G Gain Detergent section, the wind-up noses utilize intelligent stop animation programmed to turn left or right when they get within certain pixels of another nose or the edge of the frame.

Each creative showcase has a brief copy intro and titles for finger-like links that house individual creative components, TV spots, Outdoor, Radio, Web, etc. They act as curtains that split apart to unveil the creative on mouse-over.

Covering Linear Thinkers

We added a small traditional Navigation bar along the bottom for linear thinkers. This bar houses additional content, like the Pencil story and Contacts, so that nothing interferes with the creative purity of the Leo signature.

The site is fueled by an advanced content management system (CMS) to facilitate ongoing additions and edits to the site.

A Viral Explosion

After a soft launch for Leo Burnett Worldwide Creative Directors and global leaders in August '05, a viral explosion followed.

Within weeks, without any advertising support, it had attracted over 107,000 visitors, 75% of which were from outside North America.

The site's creative idea and technical wizardry has been adopted globally for Leo Burnett Worldwide, check out leoburnett.com. More sites will be rolling out across regions and countries in ‘06.

The centralized CMS developed for leoburnett.ca is adapted to facilitate this process. Working within creative style guidelines, offices around the world will be able to deploy local content at the click of a button.

International Recognition

The site has won significant international recognition. To date, leoburnett.ca has been recognized at major award shows, including: ANDY Awards, Cannes Festival, CLIO Awards, D&AD, FWA (Favourite Website Awards), Golden Drum Awards, OneShow and Webby Awards.

We’re extremely proud of our new site leoburnett.ca. It’s a true reflection of our creativity, spirit and represents a brilliant collaboration of Leo Burnett and Arc Worldwide teams. To have it become the global Leo Burnett is incredible we look forward to the evolution of our organic work of art.


Title: Big Ideas Come Out Of Big Pencils

URL: http://www.leoburnett.ca

Client: Leo Burnett Canada

Agency: Leo Burnett and Arc Worldwide, Canada

Creative Directors: Shirley Ward-Taggart, Judy John

Art Directors: Peter Gomes, Ian Kay, Israel Diaz

Designer: Peter Gomes

Writers: Len Preskow, Arthur Shah

Flash Developer: Dan Purdy

Photography: Peter Gomes

Programmer: Mike Findlay

Account Director: Lynda Olesen

Director of Technology: Hubert Bandurski

About the Authors:

Arc Worldwide - Toronto is a Leo Burnett Company. A team of interactive, direct and promotion experts work in the same offices with Leo Burnett Canada.

Arc Worldwide - Creates marketing solutions through a unique fusion of creativity + accountability we call Practical Magic. The uncanny ability to drive measurable results in ways that are innovative. Memorable. Inspired.

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