JWT Taps Portrate

J. Walter Thompson has named former Lowe managing director Howard Portrate to steer $80 million worth of Diageo liquor business in New York.

Portrate, who starts this week, takes the title of evp, worldwide director-in-charge. He succeeds Rae Burdon, who re turned to JWT’s London office in July to man age its global Rolex business.

The Diageo account includes global creative duties on Smirnoff and Tanqueray and domestic creative duties on J&B scotch, Baileys Irish Cream and a line of single malt whiskeys.

Diageo is “obviously one of our highest-profile global creative accounts,” said shop COO Marc Capra. “Howard fits that profile per fectly.”

Portrate, who reports to North American president Bob Jeffrey, cited the “terrific energy” of JWT and the client’s commitment to “the work” as reasons for joining the shop. “And it’s really about taking that idea … and driving it through all channels of communication,” he added.

At Lowe, where he spent the last two years, Portrate helped manage brands such as Sun Micro systems, UPS, Diet Coke and Saab. Before that, he was an executive group director at Ogilvy & Mather in New York, where he worked on American Express. In 1999, he was part of the team that launched AmEx Blue.

At JWT, Portrate, 44, will lead an account team of 13 that develops strat egic ideas for the liquor brands and their extensions, including Smir n off Ice and Tanqueray Ten. He also will interact with Harry MacAuslan, worldwide director-in-charge on Diageo in the London office, which handles global strategy on Baileys and J&B.