Player Profile: 'Captain Titanium' will test mettle on BBH media team

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"He's our bionic man," said Cindy Gallop, president of Bcom3 Group's Bartle Bogle Hegarty, about Barry Lowenthal, 36, the agency's new media director. She means this nearly literally. Mr. Lowenthal was hired in May, but showed up for work just last month. He was sidelined until recently by a serious car accident and complicated surgery.

"I have screws in one ankle," Mr. Lowenthal said. "I have screws in one knee. I have a metal bar in one thigh. I have a metal plate in my wrist. I have lots of hardware. Captain Titanium is what they've been calling me."

Mr. Lowenthal was motoring down Southampton, Long Island's Montauk Highway on an Italian scooter when a pickup truck ran a red light. "He splattered me all over the side of the road," said Mr. Lowenthal, who was supposed to start at the agency June 4. While lying in his hospital bed, Mr. Lowenthal worried he was going to lose his new job. Bartle Bogle told Mr. Lowenthal the agency would wait for him to recover. "Cindy was amazingly generous," Mr. Lowenthal said. "She said, `The job is waiting for you. Get better.' I wasn't expecting that."

"Barry is worth waiting for, as long as it takes," Ms. Gallop said. "It was absolutely horrific what happened to him and we were so enormously thankful that he was able to get through it and join us."

Following Mr. Lowenthal's operation, Bartle Bogle sent him care packages with treats and magazines, and also set up weekly teleconferences with the media department. "We made it virtual employment," Ms. Gallop said.

Mr. Lowenthal replaced Matthew George, who left Bartle Bogle after being recruited by Interpublic Group of Cos.' Initiative Media. "What we were looking for was a media visionary," Ms. Gallop said. "We felt Barry was that in spades."

Mr. Lowenthal's first advertising job was as a media planner at N.W. Ayer in the early '90s. He then worked at Cordiant Communications Group's Backer Spielvogel Bates (now Bates Advertising), Grey Advertising (before there was MediaCom), and arrived at Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners, New York, where he spent almost nine years, becoming the agency's media director and a partner. Mr. Lowenthal went briefly to Hook Media to run its New York office. After the shop was acquired by Havas Advertising's Media Contacts, Mr. Lowenthal left the firm and finally was recruited by Bartle Bogle.

Mr. Lowenthal is an advocate of creative media, in which brand planners working closely with media planners develop communication and brand-differentiation strategies. Mr. Lowenthal said this approach was part of the media culture at Kirshenbaum. "As opposed to just reaching people with a brand message," said Mr. Lowenthal, "at Kirshenbaum, media was being used to shape the brand experience."

At Bartle Bogle, Mr. Lowenthal intends to continue that tradition for clients such as Johnny Walker and the Gold Council. At the agency, media planners are paired with brand planners in teams. Mr. Lowenthal will be sitting across from Emma Cookson, the agency's chief brand planner. However, the media department also plans on winning its own media-only business. And though Bartle Bogle has a media-buying arrangement with Bcom3's Starlink, a Starcom MediaVest Group division that performs buys for small to midsize agencies, Mr. Lowenthal said, "I'm still trying to figure my way through all that." At Kirshenbaum, Mr. Lowenthal's team performed creative-media chores and bought media for most of the clients with an in-house team of buyers.

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