FCB, Lowe Return to Old Names

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NEW YORK ( -- Everything new is old again at the new Interpublic, as the holding company's FCB Worldwide and Lowe Lintas & Partners Worldwide prepare to revisit their pasts.

FCB Worldwide is bringing back the name Foote, Cone & Belding, Interpublic disclosed internally to agency executives at a worldwide summit last month. Lowe, too, is reaching back a couple of generations, to when it was known simply as Lowe & Partners, to tap its creative heritage and distance itself from the heavy package-goods image of Lintas.

Carving out niches
The name revivals are part of Interpublic's strategy to carve out unique niches for each anchoring agency the gargantuan holding company has acquired. The merger of Interpublic and True North Communications, completed last month, creates a $7.2 billion gross-billing behemoth, and the structure and management of the new Interpublic organization -- along with strategic positioning for agency operating groups within its orbit -- are expected to be announced as early as today.

Lowe Lintas has long had a reputation as a creative shop, and Interpublic is expected to further bolster that image. McCann-Erickson Worldwide, known for its MasterCard campaigns, is expected to be positioned as a full-service shop with a core competency of delivering seamless, consistent account service. FCB, it appears, will be touted to prospective clients with its historical brand positioning -- identifying the need to sell, or "selling today and building brand value over time," a favorite statement of Brendan Ryan, worldwide CEO, according to a high-level agency executive.

FCB and Lowe aren't alone in exhuming old names. Earlier this year, WPP Group's Impiric returned to its heritage by reinstating the Wunderman moniker.

"Who wouldn't want to leverage their strong name recognition and instant heritage?" asked Ian Beavis, president, FCB Seattle, who will lead the agency as it defends its $70 million Boeing Co. account. While he said he didn't see any disadvantage in not having the name during its hiatus, "there is definitely an advantage in using it" now.

Relaunched Web site
Already, the agency network has relaunched its Web site to reflect some shifts. In addition to the FCB logo, the Foote, Cone & Belding Worldwide name is emblazoned on the home page along with the declaration that the agency is the world's third-oldest, founded as Lord & Thomas in 1873.

"FCB has been led by more acknowledged innovators of our industry than have ever presided at any other single agency," states the agency on its heritage page. It goes on to tout the ad-writing history of such chairmen as Albert Lasker, "the Father of Modern Advertising" and Fairfax Cone.

No major management shifts
The agency's management is expected to continue without material changes. At the center of the strategy is Interpublic's promotion of FCB's proprietary technology tools designed to track clients' marketing initiatives in lead generation and return-on-investment. FCB uses these tools with major clients and is working to drill down the capability further into the regional offices around the world, said Mr. Beavis.

"As you start to share clients across borders, having consistent methods of operations are very important," he said.

As reported earlier, Interpublic plans to create three agency "supergroups," likely named the Partnership, WorldGroup and True North, and a fourth that will focus on marketing services. As speculation swirls over the role for Deutsch CEO Donny Deutsch -- who sold his shop to Interpublic last year for $265 million -- a joke has emerged: "Who will Donny Deutsch report to? Anyone he wants."

Staff writer Alice Z. Cuneo contributed to this report.

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