New Agency Takes Shape, Old One Takes Stock

Frank Lowe’s new London agency added its sixth “equal partner” last week—DDB London’s chief strategic officer, David Hackworthy—and is still waiting on two other executives to respond to offers: JWT London managing director Mark Cadman and Lowe London ecd Ed Morris.

Sources said Cadman, a former Lowe executive, is expected to join but unlikely to resign before next month, when his one-year non-compete from Lowe expires. He declined comment.

Morris is choosing between a double-digit stake in the new shop and a substantial counter-offer from Lowe parent IPG. Sources said IPG has offered to nearly double his salary and is mulling the 38-year old’s request to get his name on the door. Morris’ decision is expected today.

On Jan. 16, Morris met with IPG CEO Michael Roth in New York, who is said to have reassured Morris that IPG’s plans for reinvigorating Lowe are genuine and that he will play a significant role in the shop’s future. IPG declined comment.

One plan under consideration calls for Lowe to be positioned as a creatively driven agency with more offerings in marketing services but fewer than a dozen offices.

Also last week, Frank Lowe refuted IPG’s claim that he used proprietary information to damage his former, namesake shop. The same day Roth met with Morris, Lowe demanded that IPG apologize and withdraw a complaint filed two weeks ago with the American Arbitration Association. “If IPG does not withdraw its baseless claims, we may seek damages for defamation and tortious interference,” Lowe wrote in a statement. IPG would not comment, but sources said the holding company was determined to prove its claims to a panel of arbitrators.

Lowe’s new agency is opening with the $80 million Tesco account that is leaving Lowe London on March 1.

And while Frank Lowe’s new shop has yet to name itself, sources said Lowe execs have talked about re-branding their agency to break with the past entirely and underscore IPG’s desire to chart a new course. It would also avoid any confusion with Frank Lowe back in the business, even though it is understood that he is not planning on using his surname.

IPG is set to detail its plans for Lowe—and its other shops—at a March 27 investors’ conference in New York.