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Geoffrey Roche, who launched Lowe Roche agency in 1991, is pictured in 2009. Clients’ demands have fundamentally changed since the agency opened its doors, he said.

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

After more than two decades in business, Toronto advertising agency Lowe Roche is shutting its doors.

The agency's parent company, New York-based Interpublic Group, announced on Tuesday that Lowe Roche will shut down by the end of the year, putting roughly 30 employees' jobs in question. However, the company said that it hopes to find a place for many employees at other IPG-owned agencies.

The closing comes at a time when the advertising industry at large is struggling with shrinking marketing budgets and clients who are demanding more work for less.

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"While never an easy decision, clients are asking for creative marketing solutions that work across a variety of channels, including emerging technology, data and analytics," IPG spokesman Tom Cunningham said in a statement. "The critical mass and greater range of capabilities required by agencies to meet those challenges have become increasingly important, and are driving this decision."

It is not the only Canadian firm to close its doors recently. In July, Britain-based ad agency holding company WPP PLC shuttered its Young & Rubicam office in Toronto after nearly 80 years. The agency was folded into fellow WPP-owned shop Taxi Canada.

Until recently, Lowe Roche fell under the Lowe and Partners division of Interpublic, but in May that was restructured and became Mullen Lowe Group after a merger with U.S. advertising agency Mullen. That group within Interpublic was given a new CEO. The agency itself, whose clients include Johnson Inc., Purina and the Canadian Cancer Society, has also been in flux.

CEO Monica Ruffo left Lowe Roche in February after three years, leaving an interim team to run the shop. That team, Marie-Lise Campeau and Jeff Dack, were officially named co-presidents of the agency in April. In the same month, as part of the restructuring, there were a number of layoffs at the agency.

"IPG could have done a much better job of managing the company … they wanted to run it on autopilot," said Geoffrey Roche, who launched the agency in 1991. Lowe acquired the shop in 1996, and Mr. Roche stepped away in 2011.

Clients' demands have fundamentally changed since the agency opened its doors, he added.

"It's really tough to figure out how to make money," he said. "The model needs to change."

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