Grey New York Is Investing 75% of Its Resources Into Creativity

The agency wants an 'unfair advantage' in talent

Grey New York CEO Debby Reiner made the announcement during the 4A's conference in Miami.
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Grey New York is making a commitment to focusing on creativity first.

The agency is instituting a new creative commitment mandating that 75 percent of its investments in talent and resources are creative-focused by 2019. That figure includes creative, project management and production roles, with all other agency positions part of the other 25 percent of the office’s investments.

Grey New York CEO Debby Reiner announced the commitment today at the “Agency and Client Reinvention” panel at the 4A’s Accelerate Conference in Miami, alongside Procter & Gamble chief brand officer Marc Pritchard and Publicis Groupe chairman and CEO Arthur Sadoun.

“I’m excited to commit 75 cents of every Grey dollar to creative talent and resources by 2019. For every client that says, ‘Tell me that more of my money is going toward creativity’ our response is clear: We’re putting your money where our value is—to where we know we’ve always added unique value,” Reiner said. “At the start of Grey’s second century, our commitment to ‘Famously Effective’ creativity and solutions that defined our first century will be realized with the flattest, simplest access to the broadest, most diverse creative minds.”

After assessing the agency’s values, Reiner said she wanted to give Grey an “unfair advantage” in talent, giving Grey’s the diversity required for creativity and the skill sets needed to excel at modern marketing.

She added that “less managing creativity and more unlocking creativity” was “at the core of our structural evolution.”

Grey New York began conversations around the initiative four to five months ago, Reiner said, adding that clients have been “extremely enthusiastic.”

Among them is P&G, whose chief brand officer Marc Pritchard joined Reiner onstage at the 4As “Agency and Client Reinvention” panel.

“As a client, this is music to our ears. We want to invest where the most value is created which is creativity,” Pritchard added. “Grey’s commitment to spending 75 cents of every dollar on creative talent is a landmark for our partnership and for the promise of even better creative that will drive us forward to what we all want: more growth.”

Before the panel, P&G announced it’s bringing several agencies together to form a new creativity agency to service its needs.

Following the panel, Pritchard told Adweek, “When we spoke to them about investing in creative talent, they looked at their numbers and said ‘we need to invest more in creative talent.’ The advantage of that is to give them the opportunity to attract an array of talent and also put a premium focus with clients on creativity. It will be good for them and us.”

The commitment is part of a broader structural transformation at Grey to a simpler model to better provide clients with creative value.

“We are creative above all else, for our people, our clients, and our work and the ongoing reinvention of our structure and our partnerships will reflect that,” Grey Worldwide chief creative officer John Patroulis said in a statement. “It means a deeper creative bench, a much broader set of skills, and will ensure a larger variety of creative solutions to our clients’ problems.”

Patroulis emphasized that for the industry to keep moving forward, creativity must drive that evolution.

Grey New York’s creative commitment comes in the wake of another change in the agency’s operating structure. Earlier this month the agency introduced an optional four-day “reduced work week” program. Staffers who opt in to the program trade a reduced work week for a 15 percent pay cut. While its introduction follows a 2.2 percent staffing reduction at the beginning of the year, Grey New York claims the program was about meeting employee demands for work-life balance, in conjunction with its existing FlexPlace and FlexTime programs, and not a cost-cutting measure.

Reiner said the commitment to creativity is also “an investment in retaining the best talent and attracting the best talent. It is about creating a creative culture that is magnetic that the best creative people are proud to call home, and the best creative people that we don’t yet have want to come join.”

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@ErikDOster Erik Oster is an agencies reporter for Adweek.