Lowe Eyes Changes at Flagship in N.Y.

Looking to stabilize its flagship agency in New York, The Lowe Group is eyeing changes within the upper management of Lowe Lintas & Partners, sources said.

Sources said U.S. president Bruce Kelley will lose his duties by year’s end, and that management also is considering installing a senior executive at the New York headquarters, possibly with the responsibilities of chief operating officer.

“Rob Quish [Lowe’s New York president] will probably be getting some help,” said one executive.

Michael Sennott, deputy chairman of Lowe Lintas & Partners Worldwide, along with Lowe chief Frank Lowe, is orchestrating the moves, sources said.

Frank Lowe would not confirm or discuss specific personnel changes, but did say, “The work is terrific, but we’re looking to strengthen the management of New York.” He added that meetings will take place before Christmas to determine the course of action in the New Year.

Talk of changes has surfaced at the end of a trying year for Lowe Lintas, which lost its $100 million Sun Micro-systems account and Burger King creative duties.

Kelley, who returned to the shop in 1999, was charged with overseeing U.S. operations, including the offices in New York, San Francisco and later, Chicago (which Lowe inherited following its merger with Ammirati Puris Lintas in October 1999). The agency had to close its Chicago site this year, following the Ameritech account loss. The loss of Sun has raised questions about the future of the San Francisco office, which still claims billings of more than $100 million.

Some executives said Kelley may remain within the IPG family.

Quish, a former APL account executive who arrived the same time as Kelley, is said to be under pressure to prove he can lead an office with a staff that now exceeds 1,000.

Last year’s merger was meant in part to give the former Lowe & Partners the size and depth to compete on a global scale. But wins have been few and far between, with the exception of 3Com, RCN and Heineken, an existing account that has grown to include non-U.S. markets. Instead, the focus has been on stabilizing and servicing clients of the former APL, including BK, UPS, General Motors and Dell.

BK launched a review in the fall, after executive changes and Lowe Lintas’ “Got the urge?” campaign failed to energize sales.

Sun went into review after the shop created print ads for Dell that skewered the “dot in dot-com,” the foundation of its work for Sun. K