Agency of the Year 2014

Big Account Wins Make Grey the 2013 Global Agency of the Year

Strategic and creative renaissance under CEO Jim Heekin

In October, Grey won back a sizable chunk of the global Hasbro business that the agency had for a decade before losing it in 2007. Suresh Nair, Grey’s director of global strategic planning, says returning clients like Hasbro underscore the agency’s offering now of complex integrated marketing solutions. “It’s no longer just matching luggage and just beautiful ads,” he says. “Clients are too smart for that.”

Nair is working with Joe Lampertius, brought in as CEO of Grey’s global shopping practice, to explore opportunities to exploit Frame, an integrated activation process introduced this year. The duo at present is looking into setting up a data-driven retail strategy practice.

Debby Reiner, Grey’s evp, group director for P&G, knows well, as a 14-year veteran of the agency, the stamina that is required to work on such a massive piece of business. Even so, she describes the Gillette pitch as “running as fast as you can every day for seven months straight.”

Reiner notes how dramatically the agency has changed under Heekin, and Grey’s newfound creative fuel needed to go the distance after such big wins as Gillette.

“Grey was always a place to get your training and become a solid, strategic account person and business partner,” she says. “But the work was never as exciting as the thinking that pushed it.”

Heekin remembers those early days after joining Grey in 2005, laughing as he recalls the response from staffers to his initial 100-day plan to transform the company. “They were grateful,” he says, “but they also thought I was crazy.”

It was about three years ago that Heekin says he started to see a turning point at the agency, giving himself and his colleagues the swagger to go after big fish like Gillette. His creative chief Myhren also began to see a new world of possibilities.

“Ten or 11 years ago, I was at ChiatDay when they got [Adweek’s] Agency of the Year, and I was just leaving at the time,” recalls Myhren. “I remember actually thinking then that I’ll never run a company that will be an Agency of the Year. Then, three years ago, I began to think, if we keep this up, we just might …” 

The Work
Grey produced some of the most memorable work of any agency in 2013—and had its best showing ever at Cannes, taking home 36 Lions. From the hilarious (rapping Manning brothers) to the sobering (an anti-child abuse ad that had us all awestruck), here is a sampling of some of the standout campaigns.

01. NFL
Leon Sandcastle” was a top 10 Super Bowl spot in USA Today’s Ad Meter.

02. DirecTV
The Manning brothers’ rap parody “Football on Your Phone” got 7 million views in one week.

03. Canon
Grey was the first agency ever to make the Oscars shortlist.


04.Duracell This print ad took a gold Lion at Cannes.

05. World Wildlife Fund
Grey Brazil’s “Deforested Field” also won a gold Lion.

06. ANAR Foundation
This billboard for a Spanish child-advocacy group showed kids a hotline phone number not visible to taller adults. It earned a bronze Lion.



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