What works for Lowe, according to its worldwide CEO Michael Wall, versus any of the other networks is the fact that it has traditionally had a strong and compelling footprint in emerging/developing economies.
“I think that’s been a true legacy of Lowe, across Asia, Latin America. Our presence and strength in these markets, therefore, has been very competitive,” he adds.
Wall (pictured), who was in Mumbai for a brief trip, took charge of the worldwide mandate for Lowe in September last year and one of the primary tasks before him then was to rejuvenate the London office, after a series of business losses.
“A lot of the conversations with many of the multinational clients still emanate out of Europe and North America. Not all but a fair bit of them so you have to be present in mind in those market places. London is an important element in that. So, for historical reasons, making sure that we are robust again in London becomes a priority. We are the only multi-national network that’s historically been based out of the UK,” he adds.
Wall took up the Lowe opportunity after a stint as CEO at BBDO Portugal. Before that, he was the founding partner of Fallon London. In the early part of his career, he spent time at agencies like DMB&B and TBWA.
His India trip, he insists, has no particular agenda. "I’ve been in this job for seven months. We are disproportionately good here, so for me the trip is a selfish reason to get to know the dynamics of the market better. So part of the reason for the India trip is to know where we are presently and where we are headed. We recently made the announcement about Amer (Jaleel) and Arun (Iyer)’s promotion to the NCD role. There will, at some point, be an announcement about the shape and structure of the agency, too."
Lowe Lintas recently announced the setting up of an office in Kochi, saying that the move signalled their intention of tapping into the growth opportunity in smaller metros and mini metros. While Wall won’t go into the specifics of the move, he says that the thinking behind it has been to look at the potential that India as a country offers as a whole, as opposed to merely focusing on key cities like Mumbai and Delhi.
“Don’t get us wrong, we will always be restless and ambitious about getting the lion’s share in markets like Mumbai, Delhi etc. The rationale of going to Tier II cities is very much a robust business strategy. Is there a basis for clients who want that level of thinking, and professionalism that we can bring? We definitely believe there is a market there to go after,” he adds.
Wall says he is more than satisfied with the job that Lowe’s India CEO Charles Cadell has achieved so far. “Charles was brought in on a fixed term contract with some very specific elements as part of his brief. His mandate was to be a catalyst for change. I believe he has done a lot of good work in that area so part of the outcome of that is making sure that the structure that we have and the legacy that we’ve built, to set us up for the future, is established and announced.We have identified what that will look like and how we are going to go about it. We will be looking at evolving that over the next six months, and will be making an announcement towards the end of the year.”
Read a more detailed interview with Michael Wall, CEO, Lowe Worldwide in Campaign India's forthcoming issue dated May 21, 2010.