Report by Jim Heekin (above)
Chairman and chief executive officer
Grey Group and Grey
2008 was a year of momentum for Grey Group as our strategic priorities began to take hold and bear fruit across our global network. This dynamism was evident in our growth from new and current clients, improved profitability and enhanced creative recognition. Despite a difficult economic climate, we moved closer to our goal of becoming a premier Total Communications company dedicated to powerful ideas that accelerate our clients’ brand potential.
Grey’s performance was driven by our steadfast focus on these strategic goals:
Making creativity our singular priority: Grey’s breakthrough creative work, epitomized by the E*TRADE baby, shone on the world stage from award shows to the Super Bowl, delivered growth for our clients and burnished our reputation.
Brand Acceleration: We expanded the reach and sophistication of our global strategic platform for developing outstanding creative ideas and communications plans with maximum impact across channels.
Total Communications offering: We delivered a seamless, integrated offering, uniting the creative expertise of Grey with the activation marketing expertise of G2, creating a powerful competitive advantage.
Talent: We reaped the benefit of the sweeping infusion of world-class talent we recruited in 2007 and 2008 in creative, planning, digital and management worldwide.
Professional development: We extended the outreach of Grey University, our comprehensive leadership development and training program; with Digital Acceleration courses; a unique partnership with Google; and the launch of the new G Channel, our online learning portal.
New resources: We added to our digital and mobile marketing offerings by forging joint venture partnerships with sister companies Bridge Worldwide and iconmobile. In addition, we increased our digital centers of excellence and recruited renowned digital creative leaders, resulting in significant new assignments.
Grey continues to rank among the top tier of global advertising agencies thanks to the reach and resources of our network in 96 countries. Our blue-chip client roster counts one-fifth of all Fortune 500 companies and our legacy of launching and sustaining leading brands continues to grow in today’s new media landscape.
Grey New York and Grey London continued their upward trajectories led by new management teams. Once again the famous E*TRADE ‘Talking Baby’ TV campaign, guided by Tor Myhren, Grey New York’s chief creative officer, made Super Bowl history in 2009. It ranked among the highest rated (Advertising Age and Adweek), most popular (WSJ.com poll) and most watched (YouTube), breaking new records in social media, garnering millions of dollars in free publicity and a raft of awards, including One Show and London International recognition. In addition, Grey New York had three of its commercials, for E*TRADE, Canon and Diageo’s Captain Morgan, chosen for Advertising Age’s Top 10 Best List of 2008.
Grey London, led by David Patton, CEO, and Jon Williams, chief creative officer, was shortlisted by Marketing magazine for ‘Creative Agency of the Year,’ calling its performance “one of the biggest turnarounds of 2008.” Grey London’s Matrix-inspired TV commercial, ‘Timesculpture’ for Toshiba, which broke new ground in 3D technology, was named in Campaign’s Top 10 TV and Cinema Ads of 2008.
Tim Mellors, vice chairman of Grey Group and worldwide chief creative director, who leads our Worldwide Creative Council, continued his efforts to elevate our creative performance. In 2008, Grey won nine Cannes Lions, three Clios, two One Show Pencils and the Grand Prix, as well as 14 London International Awards. Notably, Grey EMEA became the first agency to win the Euro Effies Agency of the Year honor for the fourth consecutive time.
In addition, Grey Latin America won the two biggest Iberoamerican Festivals: FIAP and SOL. Globally, we’ve doubled our award performance in the past three years, demonstrating a growing creative strength in Latin America and Asia Pacific.
The bedrock of Grey is its long-standing and dynamic partnerships with global clients. The agency’s vitality was represented in the significant new assignments we received from Procter & Gamble, Diageo, GlaxoSmithKline, Wyeth, Allergan, Playtex, Eli Lilly and Boehringer Ingelheim.
We were proud to win such new clients/brands as BMW of North America, LongHorn Steakhouses, Interstate Bakeries Corp., Major League Baseball’s World Baseball Classic, Pure Inventions, Green Earth Technologies, Travelport, Sony Ericsson WTA Tour and Word & Brown in the US; Hong Kong Tourism globally; Chevrolet in central Europe; Telefonica in Spain; Telecom Italia and Five Media in the UK.
We strengthened our global leadership with the appointment of top-flight professionals: Nirvik Singh was appointed chairman and CEO of Grey Group Asia Pacific and Riccardo Ferraris was appointed chairman of the Grey Latin America Leadership Council and CEO of MatosGrey, Brazil. Both executives have achieved a track record of success during their two decades at Grey and their promotions underscore our commitment to growing our best people.
Our Eye on Asia proprietary trends study once again opened a window into that vital region’s psyche and gave our clients actionable information on topics ranging from green marketing to the recession. It showcases Grey’s thought leadership to the world’s media.
We produced some of the most leading-edge creative work across platforms, breaking new ground in brand experience and building relationships:
Grey’s US election eve ‘Obamccain’ poster: “Let the issues be the issue,” in which each candidate’s skin color was switched, generated a global tsunami of online and press attention virally, with no media support.
Grey introduced Ellen DeGeneres, an unconventional choice and TV’s “every woman” in our long-running campaign for Procter & Gamble’s CoverGirl, the No.1 mass cosmetics brand, generating worldwide publicity and sales success.
Grey’s offbeat humor for Diageo’s Captain Morgan, appealing to men 21-24, via cable, the web and events, has made it the category leader and a top three spirits brand in America.
Grey’s short film tracing the struggle of a deaf Thai girl to become a talented violinist, originally intended as cinema advertising for Procter & Gamble’s Pantene, exploded into a TV and online sensation, winning a 2009 New York Festival Silver World Medal.
Please go to www.grey.com to see more of our successes.
In a year fraught with economic uncertainty, we are certain of one thing: Grey Group must single-mindedly pursue our strategic priorities, only faster, smarter and even more effectively to be the kind of marketing partner our clients expect and deserve. We have the people and plans in place and the will to do so.