Mariam Ali Baig speaks to Amber Rauf on the implications of the recent merger and rebranding of the Lowe Group.
MARIAM ALI BAIG: When did this rebranding take place officially?
AMBER RAUF: We launched with the rest of the global network on January 25th this year. It was a concerted effort across 65 markets and 90 offices.
MAB: What prompted this merger between Lowe and Mullen?
AR: Mullen is a Boston-based advertising and marketing communications agency and they have been a strong creative leader for a long time. The Lowe Group has offices pretty much everywhere; however our holding company, IPG, is very US-driven and they wanted a partnership that brought the best of both worlds together and gave them a stronger alignment within the US.
MAB: A creative alignment?
AR: Creative and for scale as well. IPG wanted the Lowe Group to be a strong entity extending from the US across to Australia. Asia Pacific and Latin America are Lowe’s strongest hubs, so there is strength in regions rather than the overall network. Mullen, on the other hand, is a strong national American agency, with clients such as Apple and Google. However, they were not a mass international network the way Lowe is and IPG felt they needed to have a more level playing field across the board. Obviously, Mullen wants to tap into Asia, but without a strong partner it is hard for a US agency to break into Asia. India would probably be a big market that companies such as Google may want to tap into.
MAB: How does this merger affect Lowe & Rauf here in Pakistan?
AR: Although Lowe & Rauf technically is an affiliate, we never worked strictly as one. We have always been ‘part’ of the group, whether as Lintas or Lowe & Rauf. We have very strong relationships with the group and we stepped out whenever we wanted to bring in a new discipline or to partner with one of their entities, which is why we already have Initiative Media, Golin, Open and of course digital and the creative agency as well. We did this to give our clients the best communication solutions they needed. For us locally, this rebranding has just enhanced us. A lot of what we talk about in our new brand communication in terms of hyper bundling and specialised services, we are already doing.
MAB: Will this involve any changes in how Lowe will work in Pakistan?
AR: Nothing has changed within this office except our philosophy and outlook and the fact that we now talk about ourselves as a hyper bundled group of companies and offer specialisation across different areas. It has simply consolidated our previous offerings and given them a model. Our new logo – the octopus – makes the concept of hyper bundling very clear, with each tentacle indicating a specialisation. It is about one brain and one entity, but with different specialisations; so connectedness with specialisation. For us in Pakistan this will now make it easier to talk to clients and say: “we need to do this and this and this, and that is how it all works together.” It is no longer about different divisions; it is about everyone working together because each project will require different skill sets.
“As an agency of the future, we are committed to understanding, seeking out and delivering solutions to our clients that will ensure they stay ahead in the communication game”
MAB: Is this a kind of reinvention of the full service model?
AR: Yes, but as it would apply today. You are returning to that concept, but in a much more contemporary communications landscape. Under the old concept, it was about one office or one team of people. Now you have different teams coming together to make a larger team. There is more specialisation than before; twenty years ago full service communication didn’t necessarily entail people who understood each medium or function to the depth that is required today.
MAB: How will you take hyper bundling forward?
AR: We have always been forward thinking as an agency and thought ahead about how to give our clients the solutions they require, whether it was digital, PR or shopper or even media – and that is not going to change. Now it is a matter of pulling all these specialisations together into that one model of hyper bundling. Hyper bundling is about bringing together the best of each discipline for each project. It is very much about being a specialist in your discipline before you come together with the other specialist.
MAB: How do you see this panning out over the next year?
AR: One of the challenges will be to work in a hyper bundled way. All the offices globally have worked in a certain way and they may have to modify the approach a little.
MAB: Modify in what way?
AR: Well for us it is a little different because we already had five different specialisations working in this building for a long time and we have learned how to work together without stepping on each other’s toes. It going to be about inculcating new habits and ways of working; when you have a new philosophy, you have to embody that philosophy within yourself, and then take it to your clients. It is about staying ahead of the communication, pre-empting and being proactive. One of the best things this new philosophy and branding has given us is a punch and an edge. I think it is very exciting to have a little bit of that Americanisation coming in; the Americans are a little bolder and they are not afraid of trying out new things. This will give us a boost and a new way of projecting ourselves that is different, exciting and of today. Most people when they see the octopus, are like “wow, how cool is this!” It us given us talk-ability.
MAB: Will the Mullen connection bring in new clients?
AR: For Pakistan getting new clients directly through Mullen’s heritage might be a bit premature at this stage. Having said this, we would definitely be looking at attracting local clients. It’s a fresh image and a different offering and I think this will excite our local clients.
MAB: Given that MullenLowe is now positioning itself as a global creative boutique, how will this affect your agency’s positioning as one of Pakistan’s largest mainstream agencies and how do you anticipate clients will react to this?
AR: Our positioning as a global creative boutique is not a reference to size or scale; rather it refers to us as a network of specialists. Much like the cctopus that embodies our visual ID, we are one unit or ‘brain’ with each ‘tentacle’ (or division) a specialist in their own task. As an agency of the future, we are committed to understanding, seeking out and delivering solutions to our clients that will ensure they stay ahead in the communication game. It is about staying relevant to our clients and clients today need a specialised, integrated approach and our new positioning will give them just that.
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