CLOSE-UP: NEWSMAKERS/AMADEO AND MAHONEY - Lowe's creative duo with ambitions to revive CDP - Mahoney and Amadeo are set for a new challenge at CDP, Camilla Palmer says

Imagine the scenario. You're one half of an acclaimed creative duo with more awards than you can shake a stick at. You're comfortable at your agency, which just happens to be Campaign's Agency of the Year, and you're working on some of the sexiest accounts around. Now, before you wake up and smell the coffee, ask yourself if you would ever want to move on.

Imagine the scenario. You're one half of an acclaimed creative duo with more awards than you can shake a stick at. You're comfortable at your agency, which just happens to be Campaign's Agency of the Year, and you're working on some of the sexiest accounts around. Now, before you wake up and smell the coffee, ask yourself if you would ever want to move on.

This advertising nirvana is pretty much the position that the Lowe Lintas creatives Andy Amadeo and Mick Mahoney were in this time last month. So, did they decide to play it safe? Did they opt to wait 20 years until the Lowe Lintas executive creative director, Charles Inge, hung up his advertising boots and they could step in to run the department?

They most certainly did not. Instead, Amadeo and Mahoney opted for, on the face of it, one of the unlikeliest moves they could have made. They have jumped to CDP, the Dentsu-owned agency struggling to regain its creative credentials after its heyday two decades ago, to take up positions as joint executive creative directors.

'We had no reason to leave,' Amadeo says. 'We were having a lovely time at Lowe. But there comes a time when you have to make a decision - are you going to continue with the cosy thing, or are you going to make a brave move on?'

As for the idea of waiting for Inge to move on, Amadeo explains: 'Let's face it, Charles was only made the executive creative director recently and he's only a few years older than us. He's not going anywhere.'

Amadeo and Mahoney met through a friend while sitting out the recession in 1993, unemployed apart from occasional freelance work at BDDH and Chiat Day. They were hired by DMB&B in 1994 and then moved to Simons Palmer for a frantic six weeks before the agency merged with TBWA. Then it was on to Lowe- Howard Spink and then Lowe Lintas, where they worked on the prestige campaigns for Stella Artois and Weetabix.

They start at CDP on 20 March, and come to the agency at a much-needed time. The previous executive creative director, Adrian Kemsley, left more than a year ago. Although he was replaced by the CDP temporary stand-ins Loz Simpson and Rob Kitchen, they were never officially given the top jobs. The CDP managing director, Simon Myers, stressed that the arrangement worked, but Simpson and Kitchen recently resigned in protest following the hiring of Amadeo and Mahoney.

Amadeo and Mahoney say that the decision to join CDP was made quickly.

'We've been approached by a number of other agencies in the past, but this is a chance for us to create our own environment, to set the creative agenda and set to work for the agency's clients. Of course, the timing was right too,' Mahoney says.

They'll be managing a department of nine creative teams and, while admitting that the creative output has not been strong, won't comment further on future hirings and firings. 'We do need to strengthen the department,' is all Amadeo will say. However, the two admit that they have a large catalogue from which to choose potential team members.

So, apart from the challenge of working on some new accounts such as the Honda business and the Canon account, the prospect of taking charge of a department full of staff who must, surely, have felt unsettled by the gap left by Kemsley, as well as a large salary, the question remains - why CDP?

Mahoney and Amadeo can't be persuaded to talk about the agency's poor creative reputation: 'We want to be somewhere where we can influence more than just the creative work we do. Look at Mark Roalfe and Robert Campbell - they took control of not just their work, but the direction of an entire agency. They're very inspirational.'

They're also pragmatic about the position of the agency within its Japanese parent company. 'Dentsu is aware that creative output is essential for a healthy shop, and that's why we're going,' Amadeo says.

But while both admit that their move is about more than creative opportunity, they deny that they are 'engineering' their path to agency ownership.

'We want to build on the creative output and we wanted to make a big jump in responsibility,' Amadeo adds.

He won't be drawn on their involvement in any hypothetical future of CDP. The possibility of buying the agency should Dentsu sell it off or negotiating a 'names above the door' deal is not on the agenda, he says.

Others watching Amadeo and Mahoney's move have different ideas. It has been suggested that it is a stepping stone to a start-up of their own.

However, both men are tight-lipped about their ultimate ambitions.

If that is, indeed, their aim, they are going about it the right way.

Gaining recognition as the 'ones who returned CDP to creative greatness' would stand them in good stead should they attempt to go it alone in the future.

Whatever their future plans, Amadeo's philosophy should ensure a dynamic future for the two. He says: 'The fear of failure doesn't exist. The real fear is of standing still too long and missing out on a great opportunity and challenge like this.'



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