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. Instead Grey is partnered across Europe with WPP's digital network Possible, now part of Wunderman. However, the most significant change at the agency in recent years has been an extraordinary improvement in the quality of its creative work, previously considered one of its weak points. In recent years, Grey London has earned a reputation as one of the UK's top agencies by creative output, although there has been a slight pause in that extraordinary turnaround since the exodus of several key managers in 2016. In 2017, 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.
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Adbrands Weekly Update 7th Jun 2018: Grey London's co-chief creative officer Caroline Pay is leaving after a little over a year in her role to join Los Angeles-based Headspace, developers of an app that offers personal meditation and mindfullness courses. Vicki McGuire remains at Grey as sole CCO, though the agency is expected to recruit a new co-CCO in due course to replace Pay.
Adbrands Weekly Update 26th Apr 2018: Ads of the Week "David & Goliath". Grey London's new campaign for Lucozade is great... but it really should carry an onscreen credit to the ITV digital series Plebs from whom it "borrows" - we're being polite - its entire creative set-up. Apart from the bit that it borrows from the Bible, of course, which unlike Plebs is out of copyright just now. Someone owes that show's creators Sam Leifer and Tom Basden a big drink, and not just Lucozade. Just as Plebs demonstrates with regard to the Roman Empire, there is a lot you can do with historical legend when you reimagine it through the eyes of the lads who lived through it. (If you don't know the series and like this ad, you should check out Plebs on YouTube).
Adbrands Weekly Update 18th May 2017: It's comparatively unusual for one ad to be banned or withdrawn in a week, let alone three. Two spots were withdrawn by their makers - a grotesque Mother's Day spot by DDB Chicago for Mars-owned Skittles, and a rather more heartfelt mother and son spot for McDonald's from Leo Burnett London which was accused of exploiting bereavement for commercial purposes. More dramatic perhaps was the ASA decision to actually ban Grey London's ad campaign for Volvo's Life Paint, a double Cannes Grand Prix winner in 2015. The spray paint makes clothing reflective in car headlights, but the ad suggested that it had a similar effect on the frame of bicycles. In fact, a different product was used on the bike shown in the ad. Though this was mentioned in a small print disclaimer at the bottom of the screen, the ASA ruled that the bike featured so prominently in the ad that the overall effect was misleading and potentially dangerous. Luckily, no mothers, sons or deceased fathers were involved.
Adbrands Weekly Update 4th May 2017: Ads of the Week "Spend It Well". Grey London - oops, sorry, Valenstein & Fatt - comes roaring out of the gates with a superb debut campaign for troubled icon Marks & Spencer. Fond though we were of RKCR/Y&R's old work for the retailer, it seems all the more dated by comparison with this fresher, lighter and less studied approach. (Is that Peaky Blinders' Helen McCrory on voiceover?) We can see that this could easily tempt lapsed customers back into the stores. But will what they find there in the fashion department keep their attention and make them decide to spend?
Adbrands Weekly Update 30th Mar 2017: In what is, by any standards, a commendable and extraordinarily bold decision, the London office of the global Grey ad agency has changed its name to highlight diversity and a rising tide of xenophobia in Britain. For the next 100 days, Grey London has become Valenstein & Fatt, in honour of founders Larry Valenstein and Arthur Fatt. When they launched the business in 1917 in New York, they feared a backlash against such identifiably Jewish surnames, and instead named the agency after the colour of its walls. This is not merely a cosmetic change: the former Grey London has changed everything, including signage, business cards and all other public branding. According to Valenstein & Fatt CEO Leo Rayman, "Recent events, from rising instances of hate crime and terror attacks in London to the triggering of Article 50, have sent shivers through our society and businesses, but it should also inspire a collective and determined attitude that our country and our companies will not change for the worse." The agency is also taking several other steps to raise awareness of ethnic prejudice and to encourage wider recruitment policies across the industry. There's more here on the Valenstein & Fatt website. Grey London will return on June 27th.
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