Jeep Stole Grey’s Thunder in the Gillette Pitch

Car beats razor to Pacino's speech in Any Given Sunday

To hear Tor Myhren tell it, Grey was dead in the water at one point during the agency’s successful bid for Procter & Gamble’s Gillette account.

Why? Because a key element of a brand manifesto video that Grey produced in December and that P&G executives embraced later appeared in an actual ad for Chrysler’s Jeep Grand Cherokee. The Jeep ad, which broke in February, features audio of Al Pacino giving a speech as coach Tony D’Amato in Any Given Sunday. In the movie, the D’Amato character talks about how “life is a game of inches” and “we fight for that inch.” Grey used parts of the same speech in its brand video. Talk about a bad case of synchronicity.

As a result, the agency had to scrap that creative approach and develop something entirely new—in a matter of weeks, according to Myhren, the president and chief creative officer of Grey’s New York office. Myhren shared the story in response to a question about the Gillette win toward the end of an hour-long presentation he made for Creative Week in New York.

The one-minute brand video was the “cornerstone of our entire pitch,” Myhren explained. “So, you can imagine that that took the wind out of our sails at that point and time. They had told us that that was one of their favorite pieces of what we did. So, we had to go back to the drawing board very fast.”

Myhren described losing the Pacino concept as a “huge down” in the ups and downs of a grueling, hard-fought review. The process began in September, with five agencies competing for the creative lead on the mega-brand: Grey, Saatchi & Saatchi, Wieden + Kennedy, Publicis and incumbent BBDO. Four months later, P&G narrowed the field to Grey, Saatchi and BBDO. The company’s decision came four weeks after final presentations.

“It was a brutal pitch,” Myhren said. “It was seven months. It was against—in my opinion—the best agencies in the world: Wieden + Kennedy, BBDO, Saatchi, Publicis. I mean, really, really tough competition.”

Despite the downer of the brand video's demise, Grey, in just two weeks, came up with another idea "that I actually think is better,” Myhren said. Naturally, he didn’t describe the winning idea. After all, this creative leader is a natural public speaker: Always leave them wanting.