Garry Lace is set for a sensational return to the agency scene as the boss of the Lowe agency in London.
His appointment as its chief executive ends months of speculation about the future of one of the industry's most colourful and controversial characters, which began after Lace's abrupt departure as the head of Grey London in March last year.
Lace, 37, takes over from Matthew Bull, the South African who has spent the past 20 months attempting to restore the agency to health after a string of multimillion-pound account losses. Bull will remain in London, but assumes the role of worldwide chief creative officer.
The first significant appointment by Tony Wright since his arrival as Lowe's worldwide president and chief executive has stunned the ad community.
Lace left Grey after a hoax e-mail was sent to leading industry figures and Grey clients, alleging that Lace was planning to set up a reward-programme rival to Air Miles.
However, Wright insisted this week that Lace had been his number-one choice. "Garry is quite simply the most talented agency leader in London," he said. Wright added that his choice would be a "perfect fit" for Lowe.
Bull's switch to take command of the network's overall creative output after a relatively short period in charge of Lowe in London will also surprise many onlookers. He had assured associates that he would not move on until a significant improvement in the agency's fortunes had been achieved.
The change also poses questions about the future responsibilities of Adrian Holmes, who currently combines the role of chief creative officer with the worldwide chairmanship. No-one at Lowe was available to clarify the new management structure as Campaign went to press.
- Perspective, p25
- Comment, p44.