Leahy Succeeds Vitale at Lowe

NEW YORK Domenico Vitale, Lowe’s chief strategic officer for North America since 2007, is leaving the Interpublic Group agency and will be succeeded by Leeann Mitchell Leahy, an executive vice president and global planning director at the New York shop.

Leahy’s new title is head of planning. In her new role, she will oversee nine planners and continue to lead strategic planning on the shop’s worldwide Johnson & Johnson account. Leahy, 38, will report to Mark Wnek, the agency’s chairman and chief creative officer.

“Communications strategy is increasingly a science and Leeann will bring world-class rigor at a time when our clients need it most,” said Wnek, adding that Leahy understands “how important data and [return on investment] are to our clients.”

Leahy joined Lowe in 2005 after eight years at Margeotes Fertitta + Partners in New York, where she was a partner and director of account planning. Earlier in her career, she was a vp of strategic planning at Publicis Groupe’s Saatchi & Saatchi here.

Lowe hired Vitale in February 2007 from MDC Partners’ Kirshenbaum Bond + Partners in New York, where he was head of brand strategy and a managing partner. He was charged with overseeing both account planning and media planning, leading Wnek to say then that the hire was an “essential component in beginning to round out our capabilities as an interactive agency.”

Vitale, who also has worked at WPP Group’s Ogilvy & Mather in New York and Havas’ Fuel in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, is known to be entrepreneurial at heart, leading some sources to speculate about what he will do next. But when reached today, he said only: “I’m leaving to pursue exciting interests.”

Lowe in recent months has won new accounts such as PricewaterhouseCoopers, Outback Steakhouse and Unilever’s Country Crock. Its other clients include J&J, Sharp and Got Milk.

Reflecting on Vitale, Wnek said: “We had a great time together. He’s moving on and I wish him the best of luck.”