As the European chief operating officer, Bernard replaces Sergio Lorca, who returns to Madrid to launch a youth-oriented agency.
Based in London, Bernard starts his new role on 26 April and reports to Marie-Jose Forissier, the chairman of Initiative Worldwide and the chief executive for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
Forissier said: "Bernard's vast experience managing key markets and handling top-level teams in Brussels, Paris, Madrid and London makes him one of the few true, leading European players."
She added that his creative background will equip him with a "fresh vision".
Bernard said: "I think that the real network is actually the media network. Media networks are extremely organised and deal with international issues in a very different way to a creative network. On one side, we have media and on the other, creative, and that's totally stupid. We need to put an end to that and find bridges that are more effective for the client."
Bernard, 49, has worked at Interpublic for most of his career, stepping down as Lowe's European president after 18 years with the network last September. He started his career as a media planner at Havas before joining RSCG. He joined Lowe in the early 80s and worked his way up through the ranks of account management. Next, he headed agencies and regional hubs in the network and became the president of Lowe in Europe in 2001.
Initiative's European clients include Unilever, Johnson & Johnson and France Telecom. Bernard brings experience with Unilever, as well as with Coca-Cola, Air France and Nestle.
Initiative has 35 agencies in Europe. According to the latest Recma figures based on 2002 billings, its market share in the top five European markets was 8 per cent.