Management Shake-up at Lowe

NEW YORK Interpublic Group evp Stephen Gatfield is assuming the role of worldwide CEO at Lowe, while current president and CEO Tony Wright shifts to chairman, IPG confirmed on Thursday.

Wright, 45, who previously reported to IPG chief executive Michael Roth, will now report to Gatfield, IPG said. The changes take effect in March.

News of the roles emerged two weeks after Gatfield, 47, acknowledged that he was taking on unspecified operational duties at the shop. Gatfield will be based in New York and Wright in London, where he has lived for the past year, according to sources.

“Steve brings a unique set of skills to his new post,” said Roth, in a statement. “He is a strategist and innovator who understands where marketing communications is headed and he has proven that he can manage both creative agencies and global networks. He will partner with Tony to further develop the Lowe offering and focus the company.”

For more than a year, Gatfield, a former worldwide COO at Leo Burnett, has worked behind the scenes to help IPG forge a new strategic direction for the shop, which for years has been defined by client defections and management turnover. The new Lowe is expected to have less than 20 offices (down from the current 80+) and a broader marketing platform that extends beyond advertising.

In a staff e-mail today, Wright said that as chairman he would focus on strategic thinking, new business development and key client management. He referred to Gatfield as a “close partner and ally” who would now work full-time on Lowe.

Roth said, however, that Gatfield would retain his corporate title of evp of strategy and network operations.

This story updates an item posted earlier today with IPG’s confirmation and additional information.