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Lowe & Partners/SMS is adding some heft to its upper management suite.

As expected, Bruce Kelley and Rob Quish join the agency this week as president of North America and president of New York, respectively. The latter post is new.

The two join Lee Garfinkel, chairman-chief creative officer, and Gary Goldsmith, vice chairman, in steering the agency. Lowe has been without a president since Robert Kantor resigned in January, after just six months on the job.


"This is going to give us all some time to do some thinking, instead of just managing," Mr. Garfinkel said. "We're not just managers here; we're doers. Gary and I are very hands-on and we don't need people in a corner office barking orders."

Mr. Kelley, 50, a former exec VP-general manager at Lowe, left in 1997 to start a marketing company called National Mall Network. He recently sold it to General Growth Properties. Mr. Quish, 38, moves from Ammirati Puris Lintas, where he was worldwide account director for Iridium and Lego Systems.

Although rumors resurfaced recently about a name change for the agency, the executives said it's not happening now. Yet, press materials that accompanied the announcement refer to the shop as Lowe & Partners, with the SMS dropped off.

The Lowe executives said they already have the all-important yet sometimes nebulous chemistry necessary to work together. All four have worked jointly in various combinations at different points in their respective careers.

"So much about the attractiveness of a company, for clients too, is about putting together a collection of people you can trust and respect -- and value their thoughts -- in good times and in bad," Mr. Quish said.


Lowe has had its share of bumpy spots in the past six months, starting with Mr. Kantor's departure. Then, nearly a month later, Mercedes Benz USA decided to move its estimated $100 million account from Lowe to Omnicom Group's Merkley Newman Harty, New York.

The ad agency industry, accustomed to mercurial decisions by clients, was shocked; Lowe's Mercedes work was hailed even by competitors. Mercedes executives blamed the split on relationships.

Interpublic Group of Cos., Lowe's parent, then sued Marvin Sloves, the agency's former co-chairman who had taken on a consulting role early in the year, for what it claimed was his divisive part in the Mercedes exit. That lawsuit is still pending.

Through it all, the level of creative work at the agency never suffered, the Lowe executives were quick to point out.

"The time we've just been through has pulled the agency together in a really good way," Mr. Goldsmith said. "People are feeling optimistic now, and these

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