5 minutes with... in association withAdobe Firefly

5 Minutes With… Michael Wall

Advertising Agency
New York, United States
CEO, Lowe and Partners, on this week’s launch of Lowe Campbell Ewald NY

We’ve got our eyes on Lowe at the moment. First there was the partnership with Campbell Ewald and their intriguing move to Detroit and this week comes news that Lowe will be opening up a New York base. What better time to pick the brains of Lowe and Partners CEO Michael Wall?  He tells LBB’s Laura Swinton why the time is ripe for the Lowe brand to shine in the U.S. 

LBB> Why is now the right time for a US expansion?

MW> With Lowe Campbell Ewald, we now have a Lowe branded agency partner in the US that is already in Detroit, San Antonio and Los Angeles.  New York is a natural extension of this in terms of market coverage, the right location for some of our clients, and as an important market place in its own right for business, talent and reputation.

LBB> And why have Campbell Ewald proven to be such a great fit?

MW> We have won stuff together.  So success is always a good basis for any partnership.  They are committed and want to be part of Lowe.  They are good people and good practitioners and I believe their values sit very well with those of the Lowe and Partners network.

LBB> We spoke to Iain Lanivich a few months back – the story of Detroit and the team’s determination to use the creative industries to re-invigorate the city is kind of inspiring. Since becoming involved and meeting the team, I wonder what your personal thoughts are about their efforts and vision?

MW> I love it. The underdog part, the adversity part and the belief that out of this environment creativity, energy and success can flourish.  It is proxy for what we as agencies do at our best.

LBB> Lowe & Partners seems to be going from strength to strength – in your mind, what is it about the network that makes it unique right now?

MW> I genuinely believe we stand out because we are the right size and shape for today's market and clients.  We are an intimate and highly collaborative network and group of practitioners.  We punch above our weight in terms of creativity and effectiveness.  And we are world class at taking global and complex brands and putting them to work in challenging local markets.

LBB< How did you first get into advertising? Was it a deliberate move or an accidental one? You studied French and economics and travelled Asia before entering the industry. How do you think these experiences have influenced your career?

MW>  A happy accident.  I followed a friend to some milk round interviews because it looked like fun and got an offer on a scheme without having to have any degree in the bag.  Didn't think much more about it until I started the following October.

Whatever experiences I have had they have invariably revolved around international culture.  I like the world view.  I like learning new stuff.  And I have always thought the world is more interesting than an island.

LBB> What one piece of advice do you wish someone had given to you at the start of your career?

MW> "Don't be in so much of a hurry".  It is counter intuitive in a meritocratic, results oriented industry.  But with the benefit of hindsight, I think you can and need to afford yourself some time to take it in, to reflect and to make sure you have gotten the best experience out of what you are doing at that particular moment.

There are moments in my career where I should have allowed myself to do more of that.

LBB> I was wondering what your thoughts were on the new talent situation – different people are telling us different things. Some warn of a brain drain as new industries lure away the hottest young thinkers whereas others talk about bringing different kinds of people from non-traditional backgrounds into agencies to revitalise things. Where does Lowe look for new talent and how do you nurture those who are new to the industry and agency?

MW> It is harder to find the good people for a variety of reasons that we are all too aware of.  It is our collective responsibility to make what we have to offer interesting and appealing.  And to have broader horizons around where the talent might come from.

For Lowe, I think we have a young, entrepreneurial culture which is appealing.  We will give people the chance and the space to build their ideal and we will utilise and celebrate what is unique in that as part of our network story.  Lola in Spain is a terrific example of this model.

LBB> Which recent pieces of work from the network have resonated with you personally and why?

MW> Lifebuoy’s ‘Help a Child Reach the Age of Five’ hand-washing activation work form Lowe Lintas India.  This is terrific contemporary creativity.  And at its core it is both a genuine and meaningful cause as much as it is a commercial proposition.

On the blocks I am very excited about our future work for VW's Seat.



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