Frank Lowe Blasts IPG’s Claims

NEW YORK Frank Lowe on Monday sounded off on Interpublic Group’s claim that he used proprietary information to damage his former agency.

Frank Lowe, in a statement, described the claim as “baseless” and demanded an apology. He also said his lawyers are seeking to have IPG’s claim withdrawn.

Meanwhile, DDB London chief strategic officer David Hackworthy has resigned to become the sixth partner in Lowe’s new London-based agency, according to a representative of Frank Lowe. Hackworthy could not be reached.

Frank Lowe declined to comment on a complaint that IPG filed on Friday with the American Arbitration Association, saying he had not seen the document [Adweek Online, Jan.13]. The complaint seeks monetary damages and an injunction against Lowe for what IPG described as a breach of his fiduciary responsibilities.

On Monday, however, Lowe issued the following statement, “The allegations are without foundation and are utterly refuted. If IPG does not withdraw its baseless claims, we may seek damages for defamation and tortious interference.”

In addition to a withdrawal of the complaint, Lowe and his lawyers are seeking “an unreserved apology for the allegations contained within it and [IPG’s] press release” on Friday, Lowe said.

An IPG representative declined to respond to the statement Frank Lowe issued today.

In Friday’s statement, IPG wrote, in part, “Frank Lowe sold his agency to Interpublic in 1990 for tens of millions of dollars and subsequently received many times that amount in financial support and resources to build a global network, recruit and compensate talent. Our claim states that, in breach of his continuing fiduciary responsibilities, he has chosen to use contacts and proprietary knowledge to damage Lowe and Interpublic.”

IPG dismissed the former agency chairman in 2003 and non-compete clauses in his contract expired last year. The holding company believes it has a valid claim because Lowe is collecting a pension that came with a prohibition against soliciting former clients and staffers [Adweek, Jan. 16].

Frank Lowe plans to open his agency with the $80 million Tesco account, which is in the process of moving from IPG’s Lowe in London. The switch becomes final March 1.

The new agency’s other partners are three former Lowe London executives: ex-chairman Paul Weinberger and the senior creative team of Sam Cartmell and Jason Lawes, and Paul Hammersley, former CEO of DDB London.

Hackworthy’s weekend decision came after meeting with Omnicom Group CEO John Wren on Thursday, sources said, during which Wren made a bid to keep the executive at DDB.

Still mulling offers are JWT London managing partner Mark Cadman and Lowe London executive creative director Ed Morris, said sources.

Though Morris had been rumored to be a potential partner for weeks, he didn’t confirm the offer to his bosses until last week. That confirmation, in part, is believed to have spurred IPG to take action.