Grey N.Y. Picks President

NEW YORK Steve Hardwick has been hired as president of WPP Group’s Grey here.

Hardwick, 44, fills an executive slot left vacant since Steve Blamer held the title in 2003.

Hardwick, who had served seven months as president of independent StrawberryFrog, begins in his new position at the 525-person office next month and reports to Grey Global Group chairman and CEO Jim Heekin.

In a statement, Heekin said Hardwick possessed “unique creative instincts, credentials and charisma to take the transformation of Grey New York to the next level. He is an innovator and a change agent who has proven he can shape a creative culture and focus it on achieving excellence.”

Heekin continued, “Steve will champion Brand Acceleration, our blueprint for delivering big ideas that accelerate brands, and build highly successful client partnerships.”

Hardwick’s mandate as head of Grey’s flagship office is to develop a creative vision for the agency and recruit top talent, according to Heekin.

The agency said Hardwick would work closely with Tim Mellors, chief creative officer of Grey Global Group, as well as with top strategic planners Nat Puccio and Suresh Nair.

Before joining StrawberryFrog, Hardwick helped run the Bank of America account when it was with Interpublic Group’s roster of agencies.

He has also worked at Bozell on accounts such as Verizon Wireless and at Bates on the Compaq, Hilton Hotels and Miller Brewing accounts.

Hardwick began his agency career at Grey in 1990 on Kraft Foods.

Although his ad career has been on the account side, Hardwick is also a painter, screenplay writer and filmmaker. He was a producer of the independent film The Shovel, which starred David Strathairn and won several honors, including the Tribeca Film Festival 2006 award for best narrative movie.

Grey’s clients in New York include GlaxoSmithKline, Nokia, BAT, Diageo, Darden Restaurants, Wyeth, Canon, 3M, Eli Lilly and Dairy Queen.