Worldwide Board Eliminated; 12 Offices Become Hubs

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NEW YORK ( -- In yet another sign of the dramatic business issues facing global advertising agency networks, Interpublic Group of Cos.' Lowe Worldwide announced a reorganization plan today. The changes are part of an apparent effort to reinvigorate the struggling unit.

The move eliminates the agency's worldwide board of executives as well as a layer of regional management, and turns 12 of the network's 85 offices into "hubs" that will be positioned as "expert" in their respective markets, the agency said in a statement today.

No comment
Lowe did not return calls seeking further comment.

Mr. Wright's plan is the latest in a string of attempts by management to revive a storied agency, begun by industry legend Frank Lowe, that has been battered and bruised in the past decade by mergers and management changes. In March 2003, Lowe consolidated back-office and administrative functions in some markets with direct-marketing sibling Draft and also created a consulting unit, called Plus, to drive business to both agencies. Plus disbanded last year.

Lowe in the past several years has lost several major accounts, including HSBC, which last year moved to a team of WPP Group agencies; numerous Unilever brands in Europe; and Verizon Wireless in the U.S. But earlier this month, Lowe and a team of sibling Interpublic companies won pan-European advertising responsibilities for Nokia.

Mr. Wright's statement said office closures are not part of the plan. The release did not address the possibility that minority interests taken by Lowe in agencies around the world might be sold.

A spokeswoman did not return calls for comment at press time.

Creates consultancy
Under the reorganization, Lowe is creating a London-based consultancy to be led by Ian Creasey, president of Lowe's Europe, Middle East and Africa regions. The consultancy will draw on resources provided by sibling Interpublic-owned companies, such as Draft or public relations firm Weber Shandwick.

Creating a global network that operates with regional hubs is not a new idea. Several of Lowe's competitors, such as London-headquartered Bartle Bogle Hegarty, in which Publicis Groupe owns a 49% share, have garnered global accounts from clients such as Unilever and Diageo with such a model. Other examples are Publicis Groupe's Fallon Worldwide and independent Wieden & Kennedy.

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