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Grey Group is the smallest of the "Big Four" advertising networks within WPP. Prior to its acquisition by WPP in 2005, the group had long been the subject of merger speculation. Although a small number of shares were traded publicly, Grey was to all intents and purposes a private company, controlled by patriarch Ed Meyer. Those years of speculation finally came to an end in 2004 when it was revealed that Meyer was prepared to consider a sale. Grey's reputation for careful account management has earned the loyalty of several long-standing advertisers, not least Procter & Gamble and GlaxoSmithKline, both clients for more than 60 years, and Canon for 40. Despite the strength of such client relationships, Grey was traditionally better known for careful and methodical account management than for outstanding creativity. However, the agency has taken giant steps since the mid-2000s to improve the overall quality of its output, with its New York and London offices leading that charge. That led to a string of significant account gains in the late 2000s and early 2010s. However, Grey's performance has stalled a little since global creative chief Tor Myrhen left to join Apple in 2016, and major account wins have been comparatively rare since then. That has made the network increasingly dependent on those two longstanding global clients P&G and GSK. Michael Houston is global CEO with John Patroulis as global chief creative officer. AdAge estimated global revenues of $702m in 2019, of which a little under half was generated in the US. The network operates around 55 offices spread across 45 countries.

Capsule checked 24th August 2020

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Historical profile information for Grey

Recent stories from Adbrands Update:

Adbrands Daily Update 11th Jun 2020: "The Choice" Respect to Procter & Gamble for grasping the nettle so firmly. The packaged goods giant has delivered what is arguably the boldest statement to-date from any major advertiser over the burning issue of the racial divide in modern America. It's an incendiary debut for Keith Cartwright's new eponymous creative boutique, backed by Grey. To its considerable credit, P&G has form in this field. It has taken a firm stance for at least the past three years on issues of race, with ads such as 'The Talk', and last year's 'The Look', also overseen by Cartwright under the auspices of the Saturday Morning collective. While other advertisers including McDonald's and Nike have paid their respects to victims of police brutality, P&G dares to go much further: "Being white in America is not needing to state your life matters. And when your life matters you have power. Now is the time to use it..." Perhaps most surprisingly of all, this is an actual call to the barricades: "Words and feelings are not enough. Now is the time to take action." Stirring stuff.

Adbrands Daily Update 4th Jun 2020: Grey is offering financial backing and network support to newly launched LA creative boutique Cartwright. Its principal is the former 72andSunny creative director Keith Cartwright, who was also a founder member of the Saturday Morning African-American creative collective. "You have to be lean and move quickly," Cartwright told Adweek. "This model creates very high-touch leadership, including myself, where we work more directly with clients and their leadership to engage constantly. What slows things down in the industry is resourcing and process. But how do you do that in a way where you can still scale? Part of Cartwright's uniqueness is our ability to lean into that network and the people there we trust. And then, we can adapt and move out when we don't need those resources." The new 20-staffer unit has already signed some powerful clients. P&G - for whom Saturday Morning created last year's 'The Look' campaign - is on the roster along with Facebook and LVMH-owned Loro Piana.

Adbrands Daily Update 19th Nov 2019: "Perfectly Made For Each Other". After that early November rush, the Christmas ad deluge has all but dried up. The last stragglers arriving over the weekend were hardly worth a mention. That allows us to return to at least a semblance of normality. The deluge edged out a few other ads that appeared over the fortnight, not least this splendid film from Grey Johannesburg for industrial glass manufacturer Consol. Not perhaps the most promising of clients I'd agree, but Grey works wonders with an exceptionally clever concept, which focuses in micro detail on the manufacturing process of a glass bottle and one of its most treasured contents. Yes, beer! Perfectly made for each other, indeed.

Adbrands Daily Update 10th Sep 2019: Grey appointed long-serving Asia Pacific chief Nirvik Singh to a new role as chief operating officer across the whole network. He retains his existing duties as chairman & CEO of Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa. "For three decades, Nirvik has been a prime mover in Grey's growth and development in Asia, and most recently, in the Middle East and Africa," said global CEO Michael Houston. "I know he will bring the same single-minded dedication and achievement to his expanded responsibilities. He will work closely with me to broaden our reach and resources for the future."

Adbrands Social Media 10th Apr 2019: "Us vs Every Day". Grey New York compiles a selection of everyday nightmares to illustrate the benefits of National Parks Day on April 20th, when you can get away from all that daily grind because America's most beautiful open spaces will be offering free entry. (Shouldn't they be free every day? you might ask. Well, I guess someone has to keep them as beautiful as that). Highlight of the spot really has to be that parking sign. That has to be real: which genius dreamed that thing up? American bureaucracy can sometimes defy the imagination.

More about Grey from Adbrands Weekly Update

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