Between the Lines: Lowe's creative conundrum

Lowe London's loss of a big chunk of Nestle Rowntree business is damaging but not in the most obvious sense. Sure, it will hit the bottom line at a bad time for the beleaguered agency. More importantly, however, it curtails the number of creative opportunities when Lowe's work needs to shine brighter than ever.

For Garry Lace, the new chief executive, Nestle's decision illustrates his conundrum and the fact Lowe must not let panic destroy what it stands for.

Lace's new-business record is impressive (that is why Lowe hired him) and he may need all his powers of persuasion if the convincing rumours of Tesco and Stella Artois flirting with rival agencies prove to be true.

The two accounts are textbook examples of highly effective creativity allied to sound strategic thinking. In Tesco's case, advertising has led its transformation from "pile it high, sell it cheap" to its current diverse and quality offering.

Lowe has shown how commercials that are virtually mini-movies have managed to sustain Stella's premium positioning. Its Nestle work has been no less successful, snatching a gold at last year's Campaign Poster Awards for Quality Street.

The danger is that in rushing for business - any business - Lowe undermines its creative culture. The agency's creative edge is its greatest asset.

Accounts that pile in revenue but are creatively undemanding will never be Lowe's salvation.

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