Grey New York to Split into Five ‘Portfolio Groups’

By Patrick Coffee 

In the wake of its recent Procter & Gamble win and the subsequent promotion of leads Tamara Ingram (formerly group EVP/executive managing director) and Debby Reiner (former EVP/group director) to top positions, Grey New York announced a larger structural change today: its New York-based operations will split into five “portfolio groups” of accounts.

These groups will be (loosely) organized by client industry, and each will be led by a different Grey executive.

According to Michael Houston, who is now CEO of Grey North America, the move is about more effectively organizing what has “become a big agency” by “shaking up the status quo.” The idea is that the groups will effectively operate as their own units and that each will be roughly equivalent in size as determined by the revenues of the clients involved.

Our readers will be very interested to know that the ECDs and other staffers on each creative account will report directly to their respective group leaders.

Here’s the memo from Houston, who assures staffers that none of their jobs are in danger:

From many perspectives Grey is at the top of its game: second year in a row as Global Network of the Year, fifth year in a row on the A-List, most-awarded New York agency at Cannes, and record growth for six years in a row.  But for those of you who have been with us on this multiyear journey, you know we didn’t get to where we are today by being satisfied with the status quo.

We’ve doubled in size in just a few years and we’ve become a big agency, with all the opportunities and challenges that come with it. So, we’re shaking up the status quo in a way that will help us maximize the opportunities while minimizing the challenges with a new structure that will let this big agency act like a small one — quick and nimble with Famously Effective creativity at its core.

To facilitate deeper collaboration among departments and disciplines, to dramatically increase our speed in all facets of our business and to maintain better quality control of our work, we are restructuring the agency into five Portfolio Groups. Each Portfolio Group will hold $30M+ of aggregated client P&Ls, grouped to leverage shared client and business sensibilities wherever possible. In the case of P&G, our NY portfolio will be led by Deb Reiner, who was recently promoted to President, Grey/Global P&G; she will also add Kellogg’s and Pandora to her portfolio. Depending on the size of the other portfolios, they will be led by a Managing Director or Partner, with Managing Directors leading the larger Groups.

Speaking of Managing Directors and Partners, I’m thrilled to announce the promotions of Jane Reiss and Chris Ross to the newly created position of Managing Directors, and Jason Kahner to Partner. Watch for announcements further celebrating them and their well-deserved promotions.

Each Portfolio Group leader will be responsible for the overall business health of their respective accounts and will lead a team of senior leaders (EVPs, ECDs, ESDs, Finance Directors, and additional partners from other disciplines) to ensure we are delivering the best solutions to our clients as quickly and efficiently as possible.

The following outlines the portfolio distribution and respective Portfolio Group Leaders:

Deb Reiner, President, Grey/Global P&G
Jane Reiss, Managing Director, Grey New York
Chris Ross, Managing Director, Grey New York
Millicent Badillo, Partner, Grey New York
Jason Kahner, Partner, Grey New York

Portfolio A: Deb Reiner
Kellogg’s: (Pringles), P&G: (Art of Shaving, Braun, Clairol, CoverGirl, Downy, Febreze, Gillette, Pantene, Venus), and Pandora

Portfolio B: Jane Reiss
3M, American Egg Board, Canon, Darden: (LongHorn Steakhouse, Olive Garden), Hasbro, Nestle: (Haagen Dazs, Lean Cuisine), One World Observatory, Papa John’s, The J.M. Smucker Company: (Folgers, Smucker’s), TJ Maxx, and Whitney Museum of American Art

Portfolio C: Chris Ross
Allianz, Ally, Bosch, Diageo: (Crown Royal, Ketel One), DIRECTV, Emirates, Hess, Marriott, Pfizer: (Advil, Robitussin, EmergenC, Advil Cold), UPMC, and Volvo

Portfolio D: Mil Badillo
Ferring Pharmaceuticals: (Prepopik), Lilly: (Cialis, Dulaglutide, Basaglar, Eva, Ixe, Bari, Abema, Axiron) and Relypsa (Veltassa)

Portfolio E: Jason Kahner
AARP, Allergan, Bausch & Lomb, Boehringer-Ingelheim, GE, GSK: (Abreva, Beechams/Coldrex, Biotene, Breathe Right, Tums/Eno, Polident, Poligrip, Pronamel, Sensodyne), HSBC, National Parks, NFL, and Turner/TNT

By now, you’re probably wondering what this new structure means for you, and I can assure you that any changes will be for the better: greater emphasis on quality control, faster escalation and resolution of issues, streamlined decision-making and deeper and more meaningful talent management.

Finally, and importantly, the Portfolio Groups will all continue to share our Grey business priorities and values with singularity. We’re all still Grey, arguably the best agency in the industry, on our way to even greater success, and the Grey Portfolio Groups will help us deliver Famously Effective faster and more efficiently.

We can discuss the Portfolio Groups at our next SRO. Similarly, we intend to elaborate further on the Portfolio structure at our next Town Hall in September when we will also discuss our multiyear vision for the agency and unveil some exciting new initiatives at Grey.


You get all that?