Iconic Grill-Maker Weber Taps Grey as Its First Global Agency

WPP shop wins creative review

Grey is firing up the grill for Weber-Stephen Products, taking on the Palatine, Ill., grill manufacturer known for its Sputnik black grills, a fixture in American backyards since the 1950s.

Weber, which also makes grilling accessories, cookbooks and mobile apps, claims to be the largest barbecue brand in the world. Grey is the company's first global agency, sources said. It prevailed in a search that also included WPP corporate sibling Ogilvy & Mather as the other finalist. (Weber has used a variety of agencies in recent years, including Rabble + Rouser in Denver.) On its website, Weber indicates its products are sold in 54 countries around the world.

In 2015 Weber-Stephen spent $1.3 million in U.S. measured media, according to Kantar Media. Global spending could not be determined. In recent years, Weber has been among the grill marketers targeting younger consumers, relying on a preponderance of digital and mobile platforms.

Using its New York office as the lead on the account, Grey will be responsible for Weber's integrated communications including consumer advertising, digital and activation marketing.

While the brand is producing cutting-edge gas and electric grills, it's also credited with helping create the American outdoor grill category with its original charcoal model. The company was started by Chicago welder George Stephen, who built buoys for the U.S. Coast Guard. Stephen loved to grill for his large family on an open metal barbecue but often got rained out. So, he decided to cut a buoy in half and use the lower bowl for charcoal and the upper dome as a lid, creating the Weber "kettle" grill.

Weber execs couldn't be reached, and Grey declined to comment. However in an internal memo, Grey's global president and North American CEO Michael Houston said, "There is no more iconic American brand than the Weber kettle. We are honored and excited to count them as a global client and bring their brand story to the world."