Frank Lowe, the patriarch of an agency that began in 1981 with three clients and has grown into a global player with more than $12 billion in billings, is handing the keys to Jerry Judge, a trusted lieutenant with global credentials.
Judge, worldwide president of Lowe Lintas & Partners since the merger of Lowe & Partners and Ammirati Puris Lintas in 1999, will take Lowe Lintas' worldwide CEO title, while Lowe remains chairman, Lowe confirmed. In addition, Lowe will assume a new leadership position at parent company Interpublic Group of Cos. as a player in a new holding company dubbed The Partnership (see related story, page 3).
"I've always thought that I would stop being chief executive when I turned 60," said Lowe, who will reach that milestone in August. "I want to go back—in the last years of my career—to doing advertising instead of doing numbers. At the moment, I'm more of a super administrator."
Lowe, whose agency was bought by IPG in 1990, when it paid about $180 million for the remaining 65 percent he didn't already own, recently signed a new five-year contract.
Judge, 51, assumed the president's role after running Lowe & Partners Europe and the London office of Lowe Howard-Spink with then-managing partner Tim Lindsay. Judge joined the shop in 1994.
Before that, he held executive posts at Young & Rubicam and Bartle Bogle Hegarty (see sidebar). Pointing to BBH, Lowe noted, "We don't have to talk about what is good advertising, because he knows."
Along with his new IPG role, Lowe vows to remain in volved in agency business. "I will be able to visit the agencies, talk about creative work and standards, and look at important work for clients like Nestlé, J&J, Uni lever and [HSBC]," he said.
Contributing to Lowe's decision to hand off the worldwide CEO title was a hectic 2000, during which top executives grappled with the mega merger. Lowe, who logged 137 flights last year, including 14 trips to New York, said simply, "I needed to pull back on that schedule."
Lowe had been grooming Judge for the CEO role for quite some time. "Jerry and I talk two or three times a day because we both realize two heads are better than one," he added. So why now? "I couldn't hand it over before it was sorted out and ready to be handed over," he said. Judge was traveling in Asia last week and could not be reached.
While he would not confirm the move, IPG CEO John Dooner said of Lowe, "He will remain a driving force of the agency, not only toward creativity, but the overall business."