IPG Restructures Lowe Worldwide - Yet Again

18 February 2005

Since the withdrawal of master adman Frank Lowe from the day-to-day affairs of the agency network that bears his name [WAMN: 15-Sep-03], the Interpublic Group-owned company has spun on a giddying carousel of management changes, restructuring, quasi-mergers and account losses.

Some within the industry regard the agency as requiring intensive care - a process that may well have started with Wednesday's announcement of yet another reorganization.

Englishmen Tony Wright, appointed last September as Lowe's worldwide president/ceo, has not gone for half-measures. He has axed the company's worldwide board and intends to transform its twelve geographic offices into local hubs, each with a specific skill-set.

The centerpiece of the new strategy will be a London-based consultancy led by Ian Creasey, president of Lowe's Europe, Middle East and Africa regions. It will utilize resources provided by Interpublic siblings, among them direct specialist Draft and PR agency Weber Shandwick.

The strategy emulates the template pioneered with success by London shop Bartle Bogle Hegarty and US independent Wieden & Kennedy. And it almost certainly reflects the needs of Nokia's global business, awarded last week to a number of IPG satellites.

Unlike its role models, however, Lowe is a wholly-owned unit of a listed company and has to work within that constraint. BBH still retains control of its destiny with 51% of its equity (Publicis holds 49%) while W&K is answerable only to itself and its clientele.

Wright insists his magic bullet will not involve office closures, although it has been suggested that Lowe may dispose of minority interests in other agencies across the globe.

Data sourced from AdAge (USA); additional content by WARC staff