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Silver, D'Arcy in Talks

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Michael Silver, who managed the Heineken account at Lowe since the agency won it in 1998, is in negotiations to join D'Arcy Masius Ben ton & Bowles, sources said.

Heineken last Wednesday fired Lowe [Adweek On line, Jan. 23] and is expected to move its $50-60 million business to D'Arcy some time after the 90-day notice is up in April, said sources. Lowe CEO Paul Hammersley and D'Arcy executives declined comment.

D'Arcy hired former Lowe creative chief Lee Garfinkel in August and just two weeks ago hired Lowe's head of broadcast production, Bob Nelson, who joins in March.

Silver, Garfinkel and Nelson helped create the award-winning "It's all about the beer" campaign while at Lowe and have strict noncompete clauses with Lowe's parent, Interpublic Group. Sources said Silver's contract, like Nelson's, in cludes a one-year noncompete. Gar finkel's noncompete expires in July, sources said.

About 50-60 staffers worked on the account at Lowe, and some have already been approached by D'Arcy with job offers, sources said.

IPG will enforce the noncompetes, and one source said IPG would get a court order, if needed, to ensure Silver and the others honor those arrangements.

Sources said Silver is angling for many shares in D'Arcy parent Bcom3, which is expected to go public next year. While stock options are part of most such deals, one source said Silver's de mand was high enough to give D'Arcy executives pause.

Any Heineken shift to D'Arcy, however, would inevitably include Silver. Sources said he is a close friend of Heineken marketing chief Steve Davis and has had a tight grip on the account since it was at Wells BDDP.

Time is on Heineken's side. In December, Lowe unveiled 16 new TV spots at a distributors' meeting for the Heineken and Amstel brands, and so the client will not need new work at least until June, sources said.

Silver could not be reached for comment; Heineken executives did not return calls.