Future hinges on management, rebranding

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Difficult only begins to describe 2001 for Lowe. The agency scored some big wins, including Verizon Communications' $400 million account, Mass Mutual Financial Services and Saab Cars USA. But Lowe tallied net new billings of slightly more than $200 million, after losses including Dell Computer Corp. ($150 million), United Parcel Service , Coca-Cola Co.'s Sprite, Gillette Co.'s Oral-B, Lego Group and Nestle's Purina O.N.E.

Lowe continued to suffer from management upheaval as Lee Garfinkel, chairman-CEO and chief creative officer, departed in January. Paul Hammersley, Lowe's new CEO for North America, arrived in New York from London in June to reposition the agency, a task that's included laying off nearly 20% of staff. The agency also droppeed "Lintas & Partners" from its name, beginning 2002 simply as "Lowe."

LOOKING AHEAD

Management stability is questioned, and Lowe's U.S. units appear destined to be reconfigured somehow with another Interpublic Group of Cos. shop.

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