Although the union of Interpublic Group of Cos.' Ammirati Puris Lintas and Lowe & Partners Worldwide seemed conflict-free on the domestic roster, the overseas business faces some challenges. For instance, Ammirati handles household products giant Unilever while Lowe handles competitor Henkel.
DDB Worldwide already is expected to pick up Lowe's $50 million to $60 million Henkel detergent business in five European countries. Among other brands, Lowe handles Persil, Germany's best-selling detergent.
OUT OF THE LOOP
Henkel is believed to have been unaware that a merger between its agency and Ammirati was imminent. It's a familiar experience for Henkel. In December 1990, Henkel's biggest shop, Euro RSCG Worldwide, became a Procter & Gamble Co. agency and immediately dropped Henkel. DDB joined Henkel's European roster by picking up the Euro RSCG brands.
Another potential conflict is General Motors Corp., handled by Lowe's Hamburg shop, while Toyota Motor Corp.'s German business is assigned to an Ammirati subsidiary in Frankfurt called Change.
Interpublic, however, maintained it had the situation in hand.
"There are not too many conflicts," said Chairman and President-CEO Philip Geier. "In most cases, it can be worked out."
After months of rumors, there were few surprises in the bare bones merger announcement. As expected, Lowe Group Chairman Frank Lowe will lead the management team as chairman-CEO. One unexpected twist, however, was the appointment of Michael Sennott as deputy chairman. Mr. Sennott is vice chairman of Interpublic's other prominent network, McCann-Erickson WorldGroup.
Some observers speculated that the choice of the well-respected Mr. Sennott was made to draw some of the successful McCann experience into the newly merged agency.
Martin Puris, thought to be leaving at yearend, stepped down from the agency and Interpublic board effective immediately to pursue entrepreneurial Internet interests.
"One merger is enough in a lifetime," said Mr. Puris.
Although other executive appointments have not yet been announced, more likely will be made this week. The majority of new positions already pending or made public are being filled by Lowe executives.
"This is a total, 100% complete takeover by Lowe," said one executive close to the agencies.
It is believed that the U.S. operations will continue to report to Lowe & Partners U.S. Chairman-Chief Creative Officer Lee Garfinkel, who joins the new board of Lowe Lintas. Mr. Garfinkel is expected to become Lowe Lintas U.S. chairman with Lowe's U.S. Vice Chairman Gary Goldsmith as vice chairman.
Rob Quish, now president of Lowe & Partners, New York, moved over from Ammirati less than a year ago. With his knowledge of both shops, Mr. Quish, already considered a rising star, is expected to rise in the organization.
Other executives on the new board are Jerry Judge, president of Lowe & Partners Worldwide, who becomes president of Lowe Lintas & Partners; and Adrian Holmes, chief creative officer at Lowe & Partners Worldwide, who keeps the same title at the new agency.