Geoffrey Roche leaving advertising, Monica Ruffo named Lowe Roche CEO

An agency shift that sees Deutsch move into Montreal

Geoffrey Roche is leaving advertising and the agency he started more than 20 years ago. But he’s not retiring.

“Oh my god, no. I can’t,” said the Lowe Roche boss this morning when asked if he was calling it quits at 58.

“I wouldn’t say I’m getting out of the business, I am getting out of the business of the day-to-day of creating ads.”

Instead, Roche will put all his energy full-time into a website company he started with his son Alexandre called Poolhouse.

Lowe Roche staff were notified of the change this morning.

Monica Ruffo

Replacing Roche will be Monica Ruffo, founder of Montreal boutique agency Amuse, which has also been acquired by Lowe and Partners, becoming part of Deutsch Inc. which is Lowe’s anchor company in North America.

Ruffo will be moving to Toronto to take over as CEO of both Amuse and Lowe Roche on Sept. 1.

Deutsch North American CEO Linda Sawyer said the company did not originally intend to buy a Montreal office.

When it became clear Roche was ready to leave, Deutsch started looking for someone to replace him as CEO. A recruiter was hired, tasked with finding someone who was entrepreneurial and driven with a record of integrated brand building, said Sawyer.

“[Ruffo's] name kept coming up as a really strong leader.”

“She has amazing experience with Cossette, very much in the heyday of that company, and then the fact that she launched this company Amuse and in a short three-year period has had some great success doing great work,” said Sawyer.

“And when we met her, we determined it would be a real asset to Lowe Roche and Deutsch to have an agency in the Montreal market.”

Founded in 2008, Amuse counts Warner Bros films Canada, Couche-Tard, Speedware, ARTV, Ice Hotel, and the One Drop Foundation among its clients.

In the last year, the agency started to make a name for itself with strong awards show performances at the DMAs and MIAs.

“Expanding our footprint in Canada creates a strong national offering and bolsters our ability in North America to attract new global clients,” said Lowe and Partners chairman Tony Wright in a release.

“From the very beginning, the affinity with Deutsch was evident, even uncanny and very exciting,” said Ruffo, in the release. “The marriage of Amuse with Deutsch and Lowe Roche creates a much broader offering with tremendous depth and breadth of resources for clients across Canada.”

“I think Monica is going to be great coming in here,” said Roche. “She’s very talented. I think she is sort of the perfect person to bring in.”

Roche’s next venture, Poolhouse Enterprises, produces online community applications for children, shoes and pets including dogs and cats.

Users can upload photos of their pet, update statuses, search for different breeds, join groups, write on their friends’ walls and find the nearest parks.

Poolhouse made news back in March when Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg started a Dogbook page for his new puppy named Beast. Roche’s son Alexandre works at Facebook.

“Effectively, it is the publishing business,” said Roche, who confirmed he sold his remaining stake in Lowe Roche to Deutsch last October.

“I think you have to keep setting challenges for yourself. As much as it would have been safe for me to hang around here for the next five years, I’m not sure that is the way I want to end [my career].”

“I love, love, love where the world is right now,” he said. “The world is as much about doing websites and content as it is about thinking about a PR idea. I think to some degree creating ads is an afterthought.”

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