Interpublic Group of Companies is in advanced talks to merge the U.S. offices of Lowe with Deutsch. The talks were first reported by Adweek.
Lowe has been in disarray for years, dating back to when agency founder Frank Lowe went on a buying spree around the world in the late 1990s, adding agencies to a global network with little care or attention to operating efficiencies, overlaps, governance, proper accounting, or anything else resembling business sense.
[Full disclosure: I worked at Lowe for three years, from 1994-1997]
The network today has 70 offices across the globe and rakes in about $400 million in total revenue. Deutsch has two U.S. offices, and brings in $200 million in revenues. Hmmmmmmm. Which agency seems better run?
Lowe’s U.S. office has been a revolving door of top managers for years.
When IPG bought Deutsch in 2000, there had been talk of combining Lowe and Deutsch then. IPG management and even Frank Lowe, who was still chairman in those days, saw Deutsch chairman Donny Deutsch as just the executive who could make sense of the agency, which had been merged with Scali,McCabe, Sloves; Lintas; and Bozell, adding up to a total “dog’s dinner” of agency culture.
The talk now is that Deutsch would swallow Lowe’s clients and the people who are critical to running them. But the Lowe name would likely go away in the U.S.
Deutsch has always been a much stronger brand in the U.S. than Lowe. And it would be crazy to sully or confuse it by naming it Deutsch/Lowe. That is my opinion, anyway, and one shared by plenty of people at Deutsch.