Grey London is one of Grey Global's biggest international outposts and was its first office outside the US in 1962. In 2007, Grey London also absorbed the remaining clients and staff of sister shop United London (formerly HHCL). Until recently, local subsidiaries included the integrated agency formerly known as Joshua, latterly part of Grey's worldwide G2 network. In a shift of alignments though, the G2 network was absorbed into what is now Geometry during 2013. However, the most significant change at the agency in recent years was the extraordinary improvement from the mid 2000s in the quality of its creative work, previously considered one of its weak points. That earned Grey London a reputation as one of the UK's top agencies by creative output. Dynamic performance both locally and at network level caused billings to soar mid-decade, putting Grey in the UK's Top Ten for the very first time in 2015. That year, it became WPP's single biggest advertising agency in the UK, overtaking longtime champion RKCR/Y&R. Another leap put Grey among the UK's top four in 2016. In 2017, in a worthy but possibly misguided ethical repositioning, the agency changed its name temporarily to Valenstein & Fatt - after the original founders of Grey advertising - to highlight the need for a more ethnically diverse recruitment process across the wider marketing industry. Though some clients and commentators approved the stance, it was perhaps not the best decision from a corporate perspective. Further management changes followed. Admired AMV BBDO creative chief Adrian Rossi joined in 2018 as creative chairman, but departed once more after less than a year in his role. Anna Panczyk transferred from Grey Poland in early 2019 to become CEO; Laura Jordan Bambach was appointed as chief creative officer in 2020. However, the management turbulence appears to have had an impact on performance, resulting in the loss of several important clients including M&S fashion, McVities, Duracell and Lucozade. For 2019, Nielsen (in Campaign) put Grey at #11 with estimated billings of £152m, down more than a third on the year before.
Capsule checked 25th November 2019
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Historical profile information for Grey London
Adbrands Daily Update 28th Nov 2019: Adrian Rossi has departed Grey London after less than a year as creative chairman. That follows a difficult year for the agency, in which it lost several key managers including chief creative officer Vicki Maguire, as well as some high profile accounts. Javier Campopiano, chief creative officer for Grey Europe, will step in on an interim basis to oversee output.
Adbrands Daily Update 25th Sep 2019: Grey London lost two senior executives in a single day to rival agencies. Chief creative officer Vicki Maguire announced her resignation after a decade at the agency to take up the same role at Havas London at the beginning of next year. At the same time, chief marketing officer Sarah Jenkins is leaving to become managing director of Saatchi & Saatchi London.
Adbrands Social Media 3rd Apr 2019: "This Is Not Just Food...". A complete change of style here from Grey London for Marks & Spencer's food advertising. M&S has long been famous - even infamous - for its food porn ads from the 2000s. These featured lovingly photographed deliciousness, all oozing sauces and mouth-watering juiciness, accompanied by a fruity voiceover from actress Dervla Kirwan: "This is not just food, this is M&S food..." The style of those ads changed in the 2010s - no more voiceovers, and more arty than sexy - but people still affectionately recall and mimic the original ads. It's become a bit of a middle class British pop cultural meme, so it's a cute idea to recognise that fact in the new campaign.
Adbrands Daily Update 19th Feb 2019: Having already split its company structure into two separate teams handling general merchandise and food respectively, Marks & Spencer has also launched a search to find a new agency to handle general merchandise. Grey London, previously the retailer's sole creative agency, will retain its position on food, but a new agency will be appointed for clothing and home goods.
Adbrands Daily Update 13th Dec 2018: In a surprise development, AMV BBDO's joint ECD Adrian Rossi has resigned to become creative chairman - a new role - at Grey London. That appointment brings to an end Rossi's 20-year working partnership with Alex Grieve, now sole ECD at AMV BBDO. Rossi will report to Grey's global CCO John Patroulis. Vicki McGuire remains CCO for Grey London. It is the latest in a series of resignations and retirements at AMV BBDO including group CEO Cilla Snowball and creative partner Rosie Arnold.
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