Profile: Lou Capozzi, Manning Selvage and Lee - MS&L heralds a new dawn/Manning Selvage and Lee’s new CEO expects to focus on clients and creativity.

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 laughs.

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

laughs.



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

says.



’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

this.’



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

hoax.’




HIGHLIGHTS

1976

Managing director New York, Ketchum Public Relations

1982

Vice-president corporate communications, Aetna Life and Casualty

1988

President, Ayer PR

1990

Director of creative and strategic development, Manning Selvage and Lee

1997

Chairman and CEO, MS&L



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