Grey London will take on the name Valenstein & Fatt, in honor of Grey’s Jewish founders, Lawrence Valenstein and Arthur Fatt, for 100 days.
For the next 100 days Grey London will fully embrace the moniker, with the name appearing on the agency’s website, official signage, business cards and pencils. Receptionists will even answer the phone as employees of Valenstein & Fatt and the agency will operate that way for official reviews and pitches.
The name change is part of a self-branding campaign which it hopes will spark a wider embrace of diversity in the industry.
On its website, Grey issued the following statement on the name change:
It’s 1917. New York is booming. Two young Jewish entrepreneurs, Lawrence Valenstein and Arthur Fatt, set up a company. But anti-Semitism is rife. Their names could cost them business. So they call it Grey, after the colour of the wallpaper.
Today, Grey is one of the largest advertising networks in the world, with 10,000 employees in 96 countries, embracing every gender, race, religion and sexuality. But xenophobia is raising its ugly head once more, along with political isolationism.
In the week that the British government triggers Article 50 and begins the process of disconnecting the UK from the European Union, Grey London is showing its commitment to diversity and openness by re-establishing itself under the name of its original Jewish founders.
On March 27th, and for 100 days, Grey London will become Valenstein & Fatt.
A video on the site further explores the impetus for the decision, including footage of U.S. president Donald Trump on the campaign trail, invoking an “America first” phrase that carries historical associations with American xenophobia and anti-semitism during World War II.
The agency is backing the name change with some concrete diversity initiatives. For one, the agency is committing to transparency around the issue and publishing its diversity data. It is also launching a “cross-industry task force to identify the barriers to recruitment and retention of talent among ethnic minorities,” with its the first meeting chaired by CEO Leo Rayman. The Valenstein & Fatt Bursary will pay a full-year’s rent “for up to two young people from ethnic minority and disadvantaged backgrounds.” It will also work “with 100 primary and secondary schools to introduce students to a career in the creative industries” and provide mentorship for its diverse talent form its executive and senior leadership.
“Recent events, from rising instances of hate crime and terror attacks in London to the triggering of Article 50, have sent shivers through our society and businesses, but it should also inspire a collective and determined attitude that our country and our companies will not change for the worse,” Rayman said in a statement.
“Diversity is complex, nuanced and gnarly.,” Valenstein & Fatt chief marketing officer Sarah Jenkins told Adweek. “We’ll fail fast and go again and tell everyone what’s gone wrong, so they don’t make the same mistake.”
“That said, we have worked hard to get our first initiatives right. We have talked to some brilliant and smart organizations like Channel 4 and the Social Mobility Foundation,” she added.
Asked how the agency will measure success, she replied:
As an agency, we will gauge success by seeing more diverse talent coming into the building. And that is any diverse talent. We would love to encourage more people from BAME backgrounds. And more people who are state-school educated. To have more diverse talent identified as future leaders. Future leaders we then keep in our agency, or at the very least we keep in the industry.