Favorite Son Back at Lowe Lintas

The plan to bring Paul Hammersley back to the New York office of Lowe Lintas & Partners as CEO was hatched in January, after word surfaced that chief creative officer Lee Garfinkel was leaving.

At the time, chairman Gary Goldsmith was charting his goals for 2001 and needed a third player to round out the management team that includes New York president Rob Quish.

In Hammersley, Goldsmith saw a successful chief executive who understands the culture of The Lowe Group, the global network that houses Lowe Lintas. Hammersley, CEO of Lowe Lintas in London, comes off a year in which the shop added about $115 million in billings from Priceline.com, Orange and Merrill Lynch/HSBC, among others. The agency also won the Grand Prix for press and poster competition for Whitbread’s Stella Artois beer at Cannes.

Above all, however, Goldsmith just plain liked the guy.

“I’ve known him for almost five years,” said Goldsmith, noting they both serve on Lowe Group’s worldwide board. “He’s very good with clients. He’s a very good manager internally, and he has very good in stincts.”

Colleagues described Hammersley, 38, as personable, smart and a good presenter. He is also seen as a favorite son of Frank Lowe, who brought him to the Lowe Group in 1993 as an svp in charge of client services and new business.

“This is a signal that Frank Lowe is going to try to grasp the reins of the agency again,” said one source. Another said: “Frank Lowe wants one of his guys to be in the action, so he has a direct pipeline to New York.” Asked about Lowe’s role, Goldsmith said, “Frank agreed with it and wanted us to do what we thought was best.” Lowe did not return calls.

Hammersley’s last go-around in New York lasted four years. After a year at Lowe Group, he and Bruce Kelley became co-general managers of what was then Lowe & Partners/SMS in New York. Hammersley immersed himself in its Coke business, on the strength of his friendship with David Wheldon, then a Coke executive. Less than a year later, Hammersley was back at Lowe Group, en route to becoming managing director of Lowe Howard Spink in London. After the merger of Lowe and Ammirati Puris Lintas in October 1999, he got the top job in London.

Hammersley could not be reached for comment. He’ll arrive in New York in May or June, said Goldsmith, to whom he will report. It’s un clear who will replace him in London; one possibility is Chris Thomas, his No. 2.