IPG merges Lowe and Mullen to create Mullen Lowe Group

Alex Leikikh.
Alex Leikikh.

EXCLUSIVE: Mullen's Alex Leikikh will lead new agency as CEO

The Interpublic Group of Companies is merging two of its agency brands, Lowe & Partners and Mullen Advertising, into the Mullen Lowe Group, the holding company confirmed.

Alex Leikikh, formerly the CEO of Mullen, will lead the combined entity as Worldwide CEO. Michael Wall, previously CEO of Lowe & Partners, will exit the company after a brief period.

The merger was spurred by Mullen’s need for a more expansive network to serve clients globally, said Leikikh.

"We’ve grown significantly over the past few years, and now we find ourselves with clients who are asking us to represent them in many international markets," Leikikh said." So we need to find a way to be able to service our clients."

"Number two, we’re only as good as the talent we have," he added. "We are on a constant hunt for our talent, and a lot of that talent resides outside the U.S."

The combined agency will boast a staff of about 6,400. No offices are being closed, and no employees will lose their positions . "This is not about cost," Leikikh said. Although each agency represents auto brands, the merger creates no client conflicts, Leikikh said, because Volkswagen’s Seat, which tapped Lowe as its creative agency in 2013, doesn’t operate in the same regions as Acura, a Mullen client since that same year.

Mullen’s offices in Boston, Los Angeles and Winston-Salem will immediately rebrand as Mullen Lowe.  Digital shop Lowe Profero and Mullen’s media agency, Mediahub, will both report into the new brand. 

The leadership team for the Mullen Lowe Group will be drawn from both agencies, IPG said. Lowe’s  Jose Miguel Sokoloff will retain his position as Chairman of the Global Creative Council.

This is not the first time Lowe, one of the agency world’s oldest brands, has been merged with another entity. In 1999 it was joined Ammirati Puris Lintas, and in 2009 joined forces with Deutsch — a move that ultimately ended in divorce. The agency was surprised by the sudden 2014 loss of Cadillac to Publicis Groupe SA.

Michael Wall took over as worldwide CEO in 2009 following a nine-year stint at Fallon. It is not yet known where he will be going once he exits the company. Major Lowe clients include Unilever, Mattel and Lenovo.

Mullen, which is based in Boston, was founded in 1970 and today has four offices in the U.S. following the recent closing of its Pittsburgh outpost. Alex Leikikh was named CEO in late 2013, succeeding longtime head Joe Grimaldi. Current clients include Acura, Zappos and JetBlue.

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