UM Worldwide’s global chief media officer Joshua Lowcock has left to join Wisconsin-based Quad, a printing company turned marketing agency.
Lowcock is joining in a new role as president, tasked with expanding Quad’s audience targeting and media solutions, which is built atop the company’s first-party data set acquired through years of print distribution.
In an interview with Campaign US, Lowcock said he had grown “frustrated” with the “broken” holding company model and began searching for a way out several months ago.
Specifically, he said the “lack of integration, agility and transparency” within large agencies means they often prioritize their own interests over their clients.
“There's a tendency with holding companies to create business units or structures that are used as financial instruments that are not necessarily in the best interests of clients,” he said.
“Agencies have forgotten what the word ‘agent’ means. You're an agent for your clients,” he added.
Lowcock spent more than eight years at Interpublic Group’s UM, first as U.S. chief digital officer and then global brand safety officer, an industry-first role that involved helping clients establish responsible media investment practices and protecting them from risk online. He was promoted to oversee all media communications and partnerships for the agency in 2021.
He formerly oversaw Walmart’s digital account for Publicis’ Mediavest, now called Spark Foundry, and was head of commercial products and platforms for News Corp in Australia, where he is from.
Lowcock announced his departure from UM in a LinkedIn post
on Friday, writing that making the ad industry better requires “all of us to act with integrity, work where ethics and values matter, speak out publicly and stand up for what’s right.”
His departure comes just weeks after UM’s chief privacy and responsibility officer Arielle Garcia left after more than a decade at the agency to rid herself of the “shackles” of the industry’s conflicts, as she wrote in an AdExchanger
column. Garcia reported to Lowcock.
Lowcock began his new role at Quad on Monday, October 16.
Quad was founded as a printing company in the 1970s by Harry Quadracci, printing magazines such as People, Sports Illustrated, Playboy and National Geographic.
It expanded into marketing services in 2014 and acquired Minneapolis-based ad agency Periscope for $132 million in 2018.
Lowcock said he was drawn in by the company’s “fundamental belief in transparency” and longer-term commitment to clients.
“I could have gone anywhere, honestly,” he said. “I've taken a leap of faith, but I know the industry needs to change, I believe marketers want the industry to change and I've got an organization that's committed to making that change.”
He believes many of the industry’s issues relate to short-term decisions made by public companies to inflate quarterly earnings reports.
“If I think about conflicts of interest in [this] industry, it’s because people will take the opportunistic dollar that's on the table and not realize the long-term implications of that and what it gets them hooked to,” he said.
While Quad is a public company, he said it benefits from being family controlled. Joel Quadracci, the chairman and CEO of Quad, is the son of founder Harry Quadracci.
Part of Lowcock’s role at Quad will be to build and commercialize its data offering, which he said he is committed to doing “with a focus on good governance and respect for privacy and consent” — areas which the data brokers within the ad industry often fall short on.
Quad drew in $3.2 billion in net revenue in 2022, up by 9% from the prior year, though this is down from $4 billion in 2018 and $3.9 billion in 2019, when it closed its acquisition of Periscope. In its most recent second-quarter results, it reported
net revenue of $703 million, down by 7% from the same period the prior year.
Quad’s clients include Adidas, Chevrolet, CVS, Geico, General Mills, Humana, L.L. Bean, New York Life, Rubbermaid and Toyota, according to its website.