Tor Myhren, global chief creative officer at WPP Group's Grey and president of its New York flagship office, will leave the agency at year's end for a post at tech giant Apple.
His new role will be vice president of marketing communications for the tech giant, based in California. Tor's is one of several executive moves the company announced today. Phil Schiller, senior vice president of worldwide marketing, will expand his responsibilities by leading the App Store on all platforms.
"Apple has had such a positive influence on my life, and has helped shape and inspire my creativity more than any other product on the planet," Myhren said in a statement today. "I am humbled to be joining Tim [Cook] and the team."
Myhren has led Grey's global creative efforts for the past two years, having previously served as its CCO in New York. Since joining the shop in 2007, he is credited with making its creative work among the finest in the world. Last week, Adweek named Grey its Global Agency of the Year for 2015, the second time in three years the shop has won that honor.
"My eight years at Grey aren't just the best years of my career, they've been the best years of my life," he said. "I have treasured every single minute of working side by side with my mentor and friend [Grey Global CEO] Jim Heekin. There are no words to express how proud I am of what we built together."
Myhren worked with offices around the world to craft memorable advertising that frequently sparked cultural conversations. His vision came to fruition at the Cannes Lions Festival in June, when Grey offices in 18 countries won 113 Lions, tripling the network's take for the previous year and establishing an overall agency record. All told, Grey tallied 21 gold (25 if you count its Innovation and Product Design trophies, two in each category), 36 silver and 48 bronze.
The network's efforts merited four Grand Prix statuettes: two for Volvo's "LifePaint" (below) and one each for Volvo's "The Greatest Interception Ever" and SoundCloud's "Berlin Wall of Sound."
Asked to sum up his creative philosophy, Myhren recently told Adweek that he strove to create "the kind of work that infiltrates pop culture and gets every corner of the world talking," adding: "I love scale and I love ideas that have real impact in the world. Creativity can solve the world's biggest problems."
'It's a huge transition'
As news spread, Myhren's colleagues congratulated him on the move. "I really think it's a great move for both parties, and only good things can come from this," said David Droga, creative chairman of Droga5, one of Myhren's peers on the global agency scene.
Industry consultant Avi Dan noted how unusual it is for a high-level creative to hop from an agency to a brand. "I can't recall anybody of Tor's stature going over to the client side," said Dan, who has worked in the business for more than 30 years. "The transition from an agency to Apple—it's a huge transition for him personally. But Apple is a very creative organization. That probably would make it easier for him to adjust."
Given the current business climate, Dan said he wouldn't be surprised if this is the start of a trend. "I can see more [big] name cds jumping to the client side" if they're offered a real chance to mold companies' images. Corporations are placing a premium on creative thinking these days, he added.
"Curious to see what he's going to do once he arrives," said P.J. Pereira, CCO at Pereira & O'Dell. "As an ad guy, it's sad to see such a brilliant mind and a strong leader leaving the agency side. Glad he is coming to the Bay Area, though. Smart people like that always help raise the bar through the entire market."
A Grey representative said the company would not immediately name a new CCO. Andreas Dahlqvist, who joined from McCann as 2015 began, oversees the 500-person creative department of Grey N.Y.
Below is the text of a memo sent today by Grey's Heekin to the agency's staff:
"I wanted to share some news with you. Tor Myhren who has been with Grey for the past eight years, first as Chief Creative Officer and later President of Grey New York and, for the past two years, as Worldwide Chief Creative Officer, will be leaving at the end of the year.
Tor will be joining Apple Inc. and moving to California with his growing family, a lifestyle change they have been contemplating for some time.
After a spectacular run at Grey, Tor wants to try his hand on the client side for this iconic tech company that has changed our culture and how we communicate.
As the head of the Grey Global Creative Council, Tor has made a monumental contribution to our success, enhancing our creative product, talent and profile around the world. Today, we have a deep bench of accomplished creative leaders in place across the world to fuel our continued momentum.
Tor takes with him our gratitude and warmest wishes for continued success as he opens this new chapter in his career. Please give him your congratulations and thanks."