IPG Eyes Ogilvy’s Wright For Leading Role at Lowe

NEW YORK Interpublic Group is in “serious” talks with Ogilvy & Mather global chief strategy officer Tony Wright about a top post at Lowe that would put him in line to succeed worldwide CEO Jerry Judge, sources said. IPG is talking to other candidates, but one source described Wright as the “front-runner.” Sources said IPG may consider hiring more than one executive to bolster Lowe, which has suffered from client losses and lackluster growth. During a conference call with industry analysts last week, IPG CEO David Bell said he was “not satisfied” with the shop’s operating performance. (IPG reported a second-quarter loss of $5.4 million, or 3 cents a share.) Judge, 54, who has held the job since 2001, did not return calls; Wright, 43, who has been at WPP’s Ogilvy since 1995, could not be reached.

Smokey Celebrates 60 Years With All-Digital PSAs

NEW YORK Smokey Bear returns to the USDA Forest Service campaign this week to snuff out the candles in honor of his 60th birthday, though that isn’t the only milestone. The new PSAs also mark the first time Smokey has gone 100 percent digital. In a completely digitally rendered ad breaking today, Smokey’s hand emerges from a black background to put out a candle on his birthday cake. An earlier ad showed Smokey’s digitally rendered eye peering between tree branches, but ultimately showed an actor in a bear suit. Three TV spots and two print ads bear an anniversary logo that reads, “Sixty years of vigilance.” The PSAs were created by Foote Cone Belding in Southern California and are being distributed by the Ad Council.

Havas Moves Forward With Potential Grey Bid

NEW YORK Havas is conducting due-diligence research on a potential acquisition of Grey Global Group, sources said, as is its larger rival, London-based WPP. Sources said Quadrangle Group in New York and other undisclosed investors are helping Paris-based Havas finance the deal, which would give Havas a second global agency network in addition to Euro RSCG. A deal would also bring together Havas’ MPG and Grey’s Mediacom, which sources said would share resources.

Ogilvy Beats WPP Siblings For Sears Branding Project

CHICAGO Sears, Roebuck and Co. awarded WPP’s Ogilvy & Mather in Chicago a branding assignment for this fall, sources said. Sears also considered concepts from roster shop Young & Rubicam and nonroster shop Berlin Cameron/Red Cell, both of WPP. The Hoffman Estates, Ill., retailer spent over $700 million on ads last year, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

Chase Execs to Hear Final Pitches on Merged Brand

NEW YORK Final presentations are this week in the review for the ad account of newly merged Chase and Bank One banks, sources said. Omnicom’s agencies include BBDO and Proximity, while IPG is expected to proffer Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos and FutureBrand. Independents mcgarrybowen and the Gardner Nelson Project, both New York, will also present, sources said. The client hopes to launch a campaign in the first quarter, sources said. TNS Media Intelligence/ CMR lists 2003 ad spending for Bank One at $145 million, J.P. Morgan’s securities business at $15 million and Chase at $20 million.

Jim Beam’s Under-the-Cap Sweeps Riles Watchdog

NEW YORK Jim Beam will toast the football season with a sweepstakes, though the brand may catch flak for the effort. From Aug. 15 to Nov. 15, codes appearing under bottle caps can be entered at to win. “It sounds a lot like what my son does with Snapple,” said Laurie Leiber, spokesperson for the Marin Institute, a San Rafael, Calif.-based watchdog group for the spirits industry. “Something that looks, tastes and smells like a soda campaign … you don’t want to ignore it.”