Michael Houston, global chief marketing officer of Grey Group, has been named managing director of Grey New York, a new position.
A candidate to replace Houston, who was named to the global marketing role last year, has not been identified.
In his new position, the 39-year-old executive takes on expanded New York management responsibility as he continues to spearhead Grey’s business development efforts. He will work closely with Tor Myhren, Grey N.Y.’s president and chief creative officer, to whom he reports.
Working with Myhren, Houston has been a key player in Grey Group CEO and chairman Jim Heekin’s efforts to remake the WPP agency. Since joining Grey N.Y. in 2007 as director of marketing, Houston helped launch the shop on a streak of new business wins that has since slowed but nonetheless brought in business from marketers like the NFL, DirecTV, Red Lobster, T.J. Maxx, Bausch & Lomb and Ketel One, among others.
In December, Grey N.Y. CCO Myhren added the president’s title and assumed larger management responsibilities at an agency whose ranks have multiplied over the past four years. Heekin said the move to bolster management strength at the top of Grey N.Y. came from Houston and Myhren.
“Michael and Tor came to me about six weeks ago with this plan . . . and I think it’s a great idea. We’ve almost doubled in size to 850 people,” said Heekin. “Tor is a great spiritual leader but I want him to remain squarely rooted in the creative department.”
Heekin added that in Houston’s business development role, he has shown he is ready for broader management duties. “Michael has proven he can bring together disparate groups and make them feel good about collaboration while still leading them,” said Heekin.
Houston joined Grey from what was then known as Kirshenbaum, Bond + Partners, where he had been director of corporate development for nearly five years. (He was among the executives on Heekin’s newly recruited team that Myhren, then an ecd at Leo Burnett Detroit, consulted in 2007 before signing on at Grey.) Before KB+P, Houston worked in account management, new business and corporate communications at WPP units Young & Rubicam and Landor Associates in New York and San Francisco.
At Y&R, he rose to the position of vp, North American business development. Houston began his ad career as Jay Chiat’s first intern to work across industry disciplines at Chiat/Day in New York.