A Bunch of Crazy Reindeer Once ‘Humiliated’ Some Grey Creatives on a Retreat

By Patrick Coffee 

Yeah, that’s some clickbait in our headline. Sue us.

There’s some actual news to be had here, though: Grey Worldwide officially named deputy worldwide chief creative officer and 25-year agency veteran Per Pedersen as chairman of its Global Creative Council.

We had honestly never heard of such a thing, but we interviewed Pedersen for Adweek and found him to be a pleasantly Scandinavian guy with a pretty good sense of humor. We’re not asking you to click through to the entire Q&A or anything, though you’re welcome to do just that so we’ll include the hyperlink again in case you feel like it.

Here are the parts of the interview we found most interesting. First, the Council has two official global meetings each year and two meetings in each of its regions. Pedersen goes out of his way to schedule these meetings in exotic places so as to encourage the whole team to be more creative and work better together.

“We hold our meetings in places outside of people’s comfort zones. Instead of a nice hotel in Northern Sweden, we go to the Indian version of the Grand Budapest. We’ve also gone on a safari in Africa and visited a village in Cambodia. We choose places that are inspiring, and there’s an element of getting to know your colleagues involved. These places aren’t five-star, but then if you sit in a boring meeting room at a fancy hotel, why would you really get involved with anybody?”

He did clarify that the council “wouldn’t go to Syria or anything like that,” adding, “there needs to be a challenge involved.” In one case, that challenge was some very aggressive reindeer.

“We once visited an ice hotel and went reindeer sledding. It sounds nice when paired with a hot drink, but the thing people don’t know about reindeer is that they are completely crazy. They’re the fastest animals I’ve ever seen, and they can never really be domesticated. So we were at the mercy of this animal flying through the air across an icy wasteland. Let’s just say a couple of guys got humiliated by the reindeer, and nobody saw that coming.”

We are trying to imagine this scenario and not really succeeding. Pedersen didn’t provide more detail out of respect for the victims, yet it was all somehow still very painful.

A good bit of the Q&A is all about how Grey uses these exotic retreats to determine which ideas will work and which ones are “too random or simply stupid.” It seems Pedersen’s favorites are the ones that make him say, “what the fuck?!”

He did admit, though, that most of the ideas his many creatives come up with are completely worthless.

Here’s the internal memo from chairman/CEO Jim Heekin announcing the announcement.

It is a great pleasure for me to announce that Per Pedersen officially has been named Chairman of the Grey Global Creative Council.

Per has helped oversee this group of our senior creative leaders for years identifying creative opportunities, crafting smarter award submissions and ranking the quality of our work.  He played a pivotal role in achieving Grey’s best year ever at Cannes in 2015 with a watershed performance that brought home 113 Lions from 18 countries including a record 4 Grand Prix.

In his expanded role, Per becomes our leading global creative evangelist, strengthening our creative culture and the quality of work across our entire network; recruiting world-class talent; assisting with new business and new campaigns and promoting our work with clients and award shows.

Per has been with Grey for 25 years.  He is a co-founder of Uncle Grey in Denmark and has served as Chief Creative Officer of Grey Germany.  Since 2010, he’s been based in New York as Deputy Worldwide Chief Creative Officer and earlier as global creative leader on Febreze.  He has led the award-winning “Breathe Happy” blindfold campaign and the Lion avalanche that made us the 2015 Cannes North American Network of the Year.

With 300 awards, including 43 Cannes Lions, he ranks among the most awarded creative people in our industry and has served on most award show juries from Cannes to the Clios.

Please give him your congratulations and full support as we take our “Famously Effective” vision to the next level.  Here’s his interview in today’s ADWEEK: