SIR FRANK LOWE
KNIGHTED In 2002 for his services to charity (and advertising) is one of that rarified nucleus of media men referred to as the advertising guruâ€™s guru. A scion of the famous Collett Dickenson Pearce and Lowe Agency, which inspired glamour and excitement and whose offices were at one time or another home to David Puttnam, Alan Parker and Charles Saatchi. This was a modern art form that created real change to the face of Britain and whose long term influence is only just being analysed and appreciated. CDP had a huge influence on all creative departments in the 60's, 70's and 80's, with innovative and memorable campaigns for Heineken, Hovis, Stella Artois, Benson & Hedges, Hamlet, Parker Pens amongst other household names. In 1979, Sir Frank inaugurated the Stella Artois tennis tournament and was founder and president â€“ it was an initiative which served Stella well for a 30 year span. Sir Frank duly caused a sensation in the microcosm of London advertising when he quit Lowe Worldwide in 2003, the agency he founded, to plan a new start-up â€“ the Red Brick Road (the route that Dorothy decided not to follow in the Wizard of Oz). Why does the â€˜grand old manâ€™ of advertising bother? the trade press wanted to know, especially with a two-year â€˜non-competeâ€™ clause in force? Within weeks of opening his new operation in 2006, retail giant Tesco moved its account over, worth in the region of Â£50 million. â€˜Nuff said.
What is the first still image you remember?
The original Doyle Dane Bernbach Volkswagen ad with the headline Lemon.
Your professional life has been heavily involved with film. What has the most power - a single still or the moving image?
The single still. It is because if we think of images, whether it is of our parents or the man in front of the tank in Tiananmen Square, they are always stills.
What was the first photograph you acquired?
The photograph of [Isambard Kingdom] Brunel, by Robert Howlett. It just struck me as an extraordinary image of tradition meeting the industrial revolution.
You have an impressive photographic collection - is there a theme?
The theme was to build a history of photography, so it really runs from Fox Talbot to more recent times â€“ virtually all of it is black and white, which is interesting in itself.
Which contemporary photographers do you consider to be future â€˜masterâ€™ calibre?
I think one name comes to the fore - Andreas Gursky. It would take me the rest of this page to say why.
With an advertising background - does a successful image have to have a narrative content?
No. One of the best campaigns I worked on, with Alan Waldie and Duffy, was the Benson & Hedges surreal campaign. Which I think was the first time surreal images had been used in advertising.
Is photography really the essential art of our time?
No. And I do collect paintings though looking back not as many as I wish I had collected.
Which are the key photographs you treasure the most in your collection and why?
I have been lucky to have worked with so many of the great photographers - Bailey, Donovan, Snowden, Penn, Avedon â€“ but when I recently looked at all the photographs, I did come to the conclusion that Penn is truly the master and so have collected all the Pennâ€™s that I have and put them in my library.
Do you own a camera and/or take photographs yourself?
Yes â€“ Iâ€™ve owned an Olympus since they launched the Trip and we did the ad with David Bailey. I still have an Olympus though now itâ€™s the new Tough. Iâ€™m not really a good enough photographer for very complex cameras.
If we could magically transport you anywhere, to any point in time, to take (or art direct) a single photograph - what would it be?
It would be a photograph of Michelangelo, aged 24, creating the PietÃ . To me no explanation is necessary nor would it be possible.