When newly appointed chairman of Manning Selvage and Lee, Lou
Capozzi, started his career in 1969 as Hill and Knowlton’s first
graduate trainee, he had no idea what he was getting into. ’They told me
they were paid to keep their clients’ names out of the papers,’ he
Public relations is a little more sophisticated now and after a career
including stints at agencies Ketchum and Ayer, and in-house at insurer
Aetna Life and Casualty, Capozzi’s move indicates that he has also moved
on. ’I feel I’ve worked my whole life for this opportunity,’ he
’It’s a wonderful time to take over.’
The agency launched its new ’preference creation’ global vision to its
employees last month, opting for a novel way to get the ’influencing
choice’ message across.
’We took all our employees to music stores and had them pick out a CD,
then we asked them why they picked what they did, and talked about
making choices,’ Capozzi explains. His own choice?
’I think it was Joan Baez or The Mamas and The Papas. Kirk (Stewart)
kept saying I was stuck in the 1960s.’ Stewart, his predecessor,
appointed Capozzi as director of creative strategy and development in
1990 and the two will continue to work closely, in the run up to
Stewart’s departure to Nike in July.
Stewart has been poached by the top sports brand to become its first
global vice-president of corporate communications.
’We’re very good partners and complement each other well. My tendency is
to be drawn to client work and client challenges. I’d rather do that
than pore over financial statements.’
Capozzi is confident that he will find people to back him up in the
areas he has less interest in. ’Eighty per cent of every CEO’s job goes
undone,’ he says. ’The task is to pick the right 20 per cent. I expect
my 20 per cent will be largely focused on clients and creativity.’
He believes that the only way MS&L will be able to achieve its goal of
emerging from the next round of agency consolidation in a position of
strength, is to focus on growth. Internal expansion and acquisition will
be a priority. Certain industries and geographical regions will receive
more attention, starting with healthcare.
Proving his words, earlier this week Capozzi announced the appointment
of Ann Moravick as the first managing director for the global healthcare
practice. She will coordinate a worldwide 12-strong team, which includes
Howard Godman, the London-based European healthcare director.
’It’s the first time we’ve had a collaborative management structure.
It’s a logical first step because healthcare is one of our largest and
strongest worldwide competencies,’ Capozzi says. ’Expect more of
Capozzi comes over as a straightforward and unintimidating man. ’He is
one of those rare breed of people who, although he’s in a very senior
position, makes you feel he’s your colleague not your boss,’ says one
Manning, Selvage and Lee insider.
His interests outside PR and his self-depreciating humour reflect this
relaxed side. ’I go fly fishing and never catch any fish,’ he says.
He also joins his 17-year-old and 21-year-old sons skiing and snow
boarding when he’s not indulging his other pastime - cooking.
’Recently I’ve been struggling with risotto - which I’m sure is a hoax
perpetrated on the world by the Milanese. My family has had to eat
mountains of goopy, slimy stuff while I try to resolve the risotto
Managing director New York, Ketchum Public Relations
Vice-president corporate communications, Aetna Life and Casualty
President, Ayer PR
Director of creative and strategic development, Manning Selvage and Lee
Chairman and CEO, MS&L