Amid Grey New York's new business success in the past few years, one thing that may have not been obvious are the digital assignments won by the agency, which is hardly known for technology and more for its traditional work for big-name marketers.
Quietly, though, the office has been adding digital accounts, such as for Haagen-Dazs in the summer, and now creates digital ads for the likes of Cover Girl, 3M, Hasbro, Marriott, Olive Garden and GSK.
A key driver of that expansion has been Fred Gerantabee, who joined as director of technology three years ago to build the shop's digital operations. Eleven percent of New York's 1,200 staffers now work in the digital area. In recognition of such growth, Grey today named Gerantabee to a new role: director of creative technology.
In his new job, Gerantabee will work closely with staffers and clients to integrate new platforms and technologies across brands and creative platforms. He also has created an in-house lab, The Distillery, which highlights new tech each month with exhibits, events and workshops. First up was launch partner Tumblr in August and next is 3-D printer manufacturer MakerBot.
“I was brought here to build a digital practice, not just a line item,” said Gerantabee. “We want to make it front and center. It’s not just about execution and tactics; it’s about how to integrate digital more fundamentally into everything we do.”
Since joining Grey, Gerantabee has established tech and user experience design teams and played an integral role in big wins like P&G's Gillette and in fostering organic growth from existing accounts like Eli Lilly. As a tech developer, author and speaker, his career has spanned nearly two decades and includes work for clients such as the Walt Disney Internet Group, Condé Nast, Reebok, Microsoft, Eli Lilly and Canon. Gerantabee has written 14 books on Web technologies and tools.
Gerantabee started out as a designer who got interested in tech and sees Grey’s growing digital practice as a way to make the agency more creative in its overall output.
“This is not about just the next shiny object, not just a physical manifestation, but a core philosophy at Grey," he said. "We want to do the best thing for our clients two years before it’s obvious.”