Merger to Happen on Office by Office Basis

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CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- Just five months after its debut, Interpublic Group of Cos.-owned Lowe Group's Lowe Live is folding into much larger Interpublic sibling DraftWorldwide, as the two marketing services agencies seek to create a more efficient global offering for the holding company, executives said.

The agencies, part of Interpublic's Partnership silo, will merge operations on an office by office basis, depending on what make sense in order to fill geographic holes or service clients, DraftWorldwide President-Chief Operating Officer Jordan Rednor said.

Lowe Live, whose biggest offices are in New York and San Francisco, has a much more limited global offering than Draft. It has offices in the U.K., France, the Netherlands and Sweden, while Draft has 61 offices in 27 countries worldwide. But Lowe Live does have outposts that will complement Draft's organization, particularly in San Francisco, where Draft previously did not have a presence.

San Francisco beachhead
"By making San Francisco part of DraftWorldwide, we allow them access to a worldwide, integrated marketing capability, and we gain a San Francisco beachhead," Mr. Rednor said.

Although the initiative is still in the initial stages, the offices most likely to merge are those in New York and San Francisco, with London looking like the next most likely candidate, since Draft does not have an office there, Mr. Rednor said.

Mr. Rednor could not yet answer whether all Lowe Live employees will be retained, or which physical offices might move. But he said Lowe Live Chairman Floyd Miller, who is "providing a tremendous amount of leadership in helping us understand and absorb the individual operations," will remain with Draft "for the foreseeable future," although his title has not yet been determined.

Although rumors of the fate of Interpublic agencies swarmed during the holding company's reorganization in July after its acquisition of True North Communications, Mr. Rednor said the decision to merge Lowe Live and Draft has evolved during Partnership meetings over the past few months.

Sales-promotion network
Lowe's sales promotion agency Zipatoni Co. will retain its own identity and not merge into Draft. Interpublic has suggested in the past that it might establish a global sales-promotion network under the Zipatoni umbrella, and Mr. Rednor said that "Lowe Lintas still has ambitions to leverage Zipatoni and the promotional side."

Staff writers Alice Z. Cuneo and Laurel Wentz contributed to this report.

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