Leo Burnett (bərnĕt´), 1891–1971, American advertising executive, b. St. Johns, Mich., grad. Univ. of Michigan (1914). He was a newspaper reporter and worked in advertising before moving to Chicago and opening (1935) his own ad agency, Leo Burnett Co., which he headed until 1967. Crafting ad campaigns that emphasized brand image, focused on the highly visual, stressed the essential quality of a product, and established strong emotional ties with the consumer, he was a prime developer of advertising's
Burnett's company was especially known for the creation, in the 1950s and 60s, of commercial icons that were particularly suited to symbolizing various products on the new medium of television. These included such characters as the Marlboro Man, the Jolly Green Giant, the Pillsbury Doughboy, Morris the Cat, and Tony the Tiger.
See his Communications of an Advertising Man (1961) and 100 Leo's (1995).