No 58: The Garry Lace 'hoax'

No 58: The Garry Lace 'hoax'

It is one of UK advertising’s great unsolved mysteries, a curious case that would have tested the deductive powers of Detective Chief Inspector Morse and is still the subject of much speculation whenever ad folk gather for a glass or two.

Just who was the vengeful author of an e-mail implicating Garry Lace, then Grey London’s chief executive, in a secret plan to quit the agency and go into business with one of his clients?

What is known for certain is that, on 7 February 2004, somebody visited an internet café on London’s Tottenham Court Road and circulated an e-mail claiming Lace was leaving to set up a loyalty scheme with Drew Thomson, the Air Miles managing director.

At the time, Grey held the Air Miles account, and Lace and Thomson were long-time associates. Lace insisted the story was untrue, dismissed the e-mail as a hoax and called in the police.

It seems safe to assume that whoever sent the e-mail had sufficient knowledge of the ad business to know where it would create the maximum impact. Aside from a number of senior clients, the e-mail also went to industry luminaries including the Grey chairman, Ed Meyer, Michael Baulk at Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO and Nigel Bogle at Bartle Bogle Hegarty.

Was this a case of a discontented colleague not only getting mad but also getting even? Possibly.

Lace was a flamboyant and controversial character hired by Grey from TBWA\London in 2002 with a remuneration package rumoured to be approaching £800,000 to re-energise its lacklustre London operation. In doing so, he axed a fifth of the agency’s workforce.

A little more than a month after the e-mail’s appearance, Lace resigned. Carolyn Carter, Grey Group’s European boss, admitted that "moving on is best for Garry and best for Grey".


Subscribe to Campaign from just £57 per quarter

Includes the weekly magazine and quarterly Campaign IQ, plus unrestricted online access.


Looking for a new job?

Get the latest creative jobs in advertising, media, marketing and digital delivered directly to your inbox each day.

Create an Alert Now
How easyJet transformed customer data into emotional anniversary stories

1 How easyJet transformed customer data into emotional anniversary stories

To showcase innovation and good practice, Campaign is publishing the best case studies from the 2016 Marketing New Thinking Awards, held in association with Sky Media. EasyJet and Havas Helia triumphed in the Data Creativity category for their data-driven work on the airline's 20th anniversary.

Just published