Scali, who owns a significant stake in SMS, was out of the country late last week and unavailable for comment. Sloves was traveling and unreachable as well. But Scott Messinger, general manager of SMS/N.Y., stoutly denied that the venerable N.Y. creative legend was in any way a stumbling block to completing the merger.
"That rumor is without foundation," said Messinger. " . . . To say that Sam Scali is an impediment to the merger of the two agencies taking place is an inaccuracy."
High-ranking sources familiar with the negotiations said Scali wants control over Lowe & Partners, which would have L&P ceo Andy Langer, himself a creative, president John Hayes and vice chairman/chief creative officer Lee Garfinkel reporting to him. That is a scenario, said one participant in the deal, "that doesn't compute at all."
SMS in the U.S. has been reducing staff over the last year, mostly by attrition. L&P, meanwhile, seems to be proceeding with business as usual, especially in the creative department, where Garfinkel has been hiring new people. Last week, the agency added Veronica Nash as lead creative on Halston/Borghese. Nash has worked on cosmetics brands such as Cover Girl and Elizabeth Taylor licensed products.
To say that the negotiations hinge on personnel issues, however, is an overstatement. A source said that the two sides are awaiting a report from the consulting accounting firm, Arthur Anderson & Co., which represents Lowe parent Interpublic.
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)