Editorial: Morris' worth to Lowe is far greater than his cost

The awards that jostle for space on the window shelf of Ed Morris' office at Lowe London add up to a powerful reason why the agency's executive creative director is being paid more than £1 million over the next three years as the price of his loyalty.

Even by the standards of some of the industry's stratospheric financial packages, this is a lot of money. What is more, it is being shelled out by a cash-strapped group (Interpublic) to the creative chief of an agency about to lose its flagship account (Tesco) and which made 29 staff redundant last year.

Of course, critics will cite the Morris settlement as more evidence of an industry going to hell in a superannuated handcart. However, cool appraisal suggests there are sound reasons why IPG waved the "golden handcuffs" at Morris to dissuade him from following Tesco into Sir Frank Lowe's start-up. During his short tenure as the leader of the Lowe London creative department, Morris has become a highly bankable property.

The consistently high quality of the agency's work on Stella Artois, Unilever and Tesco belie all its other well-publicised problems.

IPG has rightly balanced the cost of keeping Morris against the cost of letting him go and has decided keeping him on board is infinitely preferable.

For one thing, there is little doubt other Lowe clients would have followed Morris to the exit. For another, IPG would have had to offer a similarly mouth-watering salary to tempt a creative of equal status into an agency in turmoil. In short, without Morris, Lowe London's future would have looked bleak indeed.

Morris' decision to stay is a triumph for Lowe without being too much of a disaster for Sir Frank's start-up. The fledgling operation must be embarrassed by Morris' and Mark Cadman's decisions not to join. But with Tesco as its founding client, the new shop is almost guaranteed success.

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