Possible Worldwide and Grey’s Europe, Middle East and Africa division have formed a partnership that will see the two WPP shops collaborating on accounts, starting with shared client Procter & Gamble. Adweek talked with Possible Worldwide’s global CEO Trevor Kaufman’s about the pairing.
Adweek: What brought about the partnership with Grey? We really bought into it in order to come up with a more consolidated offer for P&G, and to create the kind of team that is successful for WPP in situations like Team Ford, where we have these cross-agency teams that work for clients. And P&G had asked us to figure out some kind of partnership there. But what is happening is that we’re winding up pitching a lot of business together. It’s cool because so often you go into these partnerships and the bigger group is really trying to take advantage of the smaller group. And in this particular case, Grey has been really open and giving with us about exposing their client relationships and their internal teams to us and being open-minded about working with us. And by the same token, we’re open-minded about the fact that they’re building a digital capability internally too. But what’s cool is what they’re building is not like Possible; it’s like Grey.
So how does the partnership operate, and when should we expect to see the first work?
We’re working together now already. As these things happen, we started working first and announced second. [The agencies are working] both out of New York and London. I think those two locations are going to see the majority of the partnership in the short term. Although we’d love to expand the partnership to Asia, I think New York and London are the areas where we mutually have the most opportunity to help clients. And there’s work being done for clients now. We’ve been working together for a while on the Febreze account for P&G. There’s a lot of coordinated work there. And now we’re partnering on several other brands with them. So we have a steering committee between [Possible and Grey] that is led by [Grey New York managing director] Michael Houston. And [Grey Group chairman and CEO] Jim Heekin and I meet all the time and talk about opportunities for us to work together. And then our CFO Diane Holland meets with [Grey Group CFO] Bob Oates, and they work out all the financial terms of every account that we partner on together. And then we have some people co-located at Grey. We think that is really critical because we want to really integrate with them culturally. The best concepts come when you’re really together. And then lastly it gives Grey—again, Grey has lots of digital folks already—it gives them access to our production capability. We have several hundred people in Delhi. We have about 120 people in Costa Rica. And those are primarily technology and production people, so it gives them a lot of depth on the bench in terms of executing against big digital campaigns.
When did you two start working together under this partnership?
We have talked forever about how to help accelerate and augment Grey’s digital transition, just because Jim Heekin and I are such good friends. I think the real turning point was at Cannes [last] year. Jim went away and created a deck saying here’s what this would look like and here’s how we could integrate. He really put a lot of thought behind it, and it just made perfect sense to me. And the other person who’s been very involved is Tamara Ingram who runs the P&G business at WPP. Tamara has been insisting there’s a trend towards consolidation, the clients want to deal with fewer partners, they need to have both Possible and Grey on their team, and they want to deal with one cohesive group as opposed to managing communications between the two. So it made perfect sense to us.
Has the nomenclature describing Possible’s or Grey’s relationship with P&G changed?
It hasn’t. We still do a lot of work that is either for P&G directly or for [one of P&G’s agencies through the company’s brand agency leader model]. Now we have three areas of our P&G work. We have work that we do directly for P&G. We have work that we do through [P&G’s brand agency leaders]. And now we have work that we do with Grey. What we’ve been calling our relationship with Grey is “Grey Powered by Possible.” On the one hand, we want the strategic direction and the culture and flavor of the offering to be aligned with Grey, but we want to give them the capability to execute against big digital programs at scale around the world.
When did the partnership officially take effect?
This has been something we built opportunistically. We didn’t sort of sign a deal. We made an agreement about how we would on-board businesses it to it. It’s been in the works for several months; it’s now finally public.