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Incumbent Interpublic Agencies Will Participate

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NEW YORK ( -- Home improvement chain Lowe's Cos. is contacting agencies about its $300 million creative and media planning and buying account, a spokeswoman for the North Carolina-based retailer said today.
Interpublic agencies McCann Erickson Worldwide and Universal McCann have handled Lowe's creative and media buying accounts since 1999.

Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann Erickson Worldwide and its sibling media planning and buying unit, Universal McCann, have handled the business since May 1999. Both agencies have been invited to participate in the review, Lowe's spokeswoman said.

Hasan & Co., Raleigh NC, is conducting the search.

The McCann agencies will defend their accounts, according to executives familiar with the matter.

PR went to WPP shop
"We've been very happy with McCann," the spokeswoman said. "We feel that it is good business practice to review our contracts from time to time." In January of this year, Lowe's completed a review of its public relations vendors and shifted its business from Interpublic's Golin Harris to GCI, now part of WPP Group. Lowe's also recently brought its customer relationship marketing efforts in-house; it had previously used Omincom Group's Rapp Collins Worldwide.

Lowe's spent $314 million in measured media last year, according to TNS Media Intelligence.

Universal McCann struggling
Despite winning Intel's $300 million business earlier this year as part of a group pitch, Universal McCann has been struggling. The agency lost Nestle's $550 million U.S. business late last year and it is currently defending its L'Oreal account. Moreover, Universal McCann is also looking for a new CEO after Robin Kent was sidelined following the marketer defections.

Requests for information have been sent to "a number of" agencies, the Lowe's spokeswoman said, but did not name any specifically. The company hopes to wrap up the review by the end of July.