Lowe Worldwide

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2004 Rating: 2 stars

The essence: Rumors of Lowe's demise appear to have been greatly exaggerated, as Interpublic Group of Cos. quelled talk of a breakup or a merger with sibling Draft by naming a new worldwide management team. But the parent has yet to articulate a cure for this intensely troubled child, and the task ahead for new CEO Tony Wright, lured from Ogilvy & Mather, New York, where he was director of strategy, is a big one. He'll have to turn around a network that's been bled of its client base, most recently with the loss of HSBC Retail Services.

Net growth: Lowe pulled in Unilever's Degree account and Darden Restaurants' Smokey Bones and Federated Department Stores' Macy's, which began as a small test-market campaign and later expanded to the retailer's first-ever cohesive national ad campaign. But the story this year is still one of loss.

management: It's too soon to see if Mr. Wright is Mr. Right. He stepped into the CEO role only in November and has yet to talk much about his turnaround plans.

Creative quality and effectiveness: Unilever's Wisk and "Milk is good for you" from Dairy Management Inc. provided platforms for strong integrated work for Lowe and sibling Interpublic shops. Especially strong was the Wisk "America Needs Dirt" campaign, which used print, out-of-home and, with the help of Draft, online to help build awareness for the detergent. Lowe's redeeming quality is some solid to good work for a handful of decent sized clients. Campaigns for GMC and Saab achieved good results.