Marks & Spencer Goes to Grey London After 16 Years with RKCR/Y&R

By Erik Oster 

British retail behemoth Marks & Spencer awarded its integrated creative account — valued at £60MM or approximately $80 million, according to The Drum — to Grey London. The appointment concludes a closed review of WPP shops launched in May and marks the first time the client has awarded traditional creative and digital duties to the same agency.

The appointment also marks the end of the brand’s relationship with 16-year incumbent RKCR/Y&R, which defended in the review. RKCR/Y&R’s recent work for the client includes 2015 food porn holiday effort “Adventures in Surprises” and last September’s 40-second spot promoting the brand’s fashion offerings.

“It’s undoubtedly sad to have to part ways with M&S after a glorious 16-year creative partnership. Our iconic work for M&S defined an era, but we’re also excited to move forward with a raft of new wins, such as TUI, Chanel and Premier League, and brilliant new talent,” said RKCR/Y&R CEO Jon Sharpe.

For Grey London, the appointment follows the resignations of CCO Nils Leonard, CEO Lucy Jameson and managing director Natalie Graeme early this summer. Chief strategy officer Leo Rayman became the agency’s new CEO in the wake of the departures, and head of planning Matt Tanter was promoted to the role of chief strategy officer last month, along with the promotion of Wayne Brown to chief operating officer. 

“This is a defining moment in the Grey London story. We’ve been after a marquee retailer for a number of years, and they don’t come more famed, more loved and bursting with opportunity than M&S,” Rayman said in a statement. “We’ve championed integration across our clients for a long time but in many ways this win is the zenith of it. To bring advertising and digital together under one roof for one of the biggest retailers in the country sets a new benchmark, not just for us but for the industry.”

“I’ve been waiting for the chance to work on M&S for years. Seriously. It’s just one of the biggest, best-loved brands in the country,” added Vicki Maguire, who leads the creative department along with fellow executive creative director Dominic Goldman following Leonard’s departure. “It’s a proper institution; somewhere I’ve been shopping for more years than I care to remember. They asked us to push them, and we really, really did – and it became obvious very early on that we shared the same ambition and the same vision.”

Winning such an iconic brand marks a quick comeback for the Grey Group, which recently saw its portion of the multibillion-dollar AT&T/DirecTV business go to Omnicom and BBDO.