Lowe Selects Hill as N.A. CEO

NEW YORK Lowe’s executive shuffle continued yesterday, as the troubled Interpublic Group shop tapped Nancy Hill as chief executive officer of its North American operations.

“The CEO position will focus on growth for the agency,” said Lowe’s New York president Sal Taibi. “She has experience with large clients that will be applicable in categories Lowe wants to pursue.”

Hill, 48, most recently worked for about two years at Omnicom Group’s BBDO here as evp, managing director, overseeing the Visa USA business, which BBDO lost late in 2005. She is also a past president of Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos’ office in San Francisco and joined BBDO after a stint in Hill, Holliday’s New York outpost, where as managing director she oversaw Verizon Wireless.

Expected to join Lowe in about a month, Hill succeeds Susan Cantor, who left the agency in February.

Hill, who could not immediately be reached for comment, has a reputation as a skillful client handler and consensus builder.

Beset in the past year by client losses and few global wins, Lowe has been in the midst of an attempted turnaround, shifting executives in both North America and Europe.

In March, Stephen Gatfield, an evp at the corporate level, was named global CEO, succeeding Tony Wright, who shifted to worldwide chairman. Taibi was promoted in January from director of client services to fill the N.Y. president’s slot.

Last week, Lowe London disclosed that its suspended CEO, Garry Lace, would leave the shop, three months after his superiors launched a probe into allegations that he met more than once in 2005 with ex-agency chairman Frank Lowe to discuss the Tesco account then at Lowe [Adweek Online, May 10]. Tesco, with $80 million in billings, has since moved to Frank Lowe’s startup, The Red Brick Road.

Lowe has also said it would cut nearly 50 offices worldwide, broaden its marketing offering and transform its planning function to include new ways to gauge the effectiveness of creative ideas.