Opinion: Perspective - Why Ingram will put some colour back into Grey

This week, Adam Crozier netted a £2.2 million bonus as the chief executive of the Royal Mail and Tamara Ingram won the chief executiveship of Grey. They used to be the joint managing directors of Saatchi & Saatchi, back in the 90s; Crozier has rather had the better fortune since.

Still, Ingram's return to the ad scene is a triumphant one of sorts.

For starters, it's been over a year since the Garry Lace affair at Grey.

So long without a chief executive has braked any momentum Lace had cranked up during his time in the big chair and Ingram will certainly wake the place up again.

For Ingram, too, an agency role surely plays to her over-the-top personality better than the research world in which she has been closeted for the last three years; no doubt she is leaving an army of timorous researchers quivering in her wake.

Then there's the Procter & Gamble piece of the jigsaw. At Saatchis, Ingram was P&G's darling, battening down the business after Maurice and Charles walked out in 1995. Since Sir Martin Sorrell's takeover of Grey, P&G has come into the WPP fold - nestling alongside its arch rival Unilever. Ingram could be a good card to play to keep the relationship sweet.

So win, win? Certainly Ingram will give Grey a new focal point, a new character and colour (more rag-roll lilac, darling, than Grey) and a fresh energy - all desperately needed to pull the management team there into a more definable shape.

But it's hard to put journalistic prejudices aside. After all, we innocent hacks now face the prospect of a full-on Ingram PR mauling; as Campaign old-timers can testify, Ingram is nothing if not adept at a superficial, luvvie effusiveness that has more than once earned her an AbFab tag. And in that sense, Ingram is an advertising throwback, from a time when gushy, theatrical flim flam could get you a long way.

It certainly doesn't play well with cynical journalists and I can't see it playing too well with her grown-up colleagues who have been through so much already at Grey. In her favour, in an industry all too thin on colourful personality, Ingram has one; no doubt Grey will inch back on to the radar with her at the helm. She's a damn good client handler/schmoozer too and has a persuasive passion for the business. And her time at Kantar gives her tangible "insight" credentials beyond her peers.

But the real challenge for Ingram will be exactly what it has always been at Grey: win some local business and make some respectable ads. Ingram has never been known for her creative sensibilities (in fact, quite the opposite) and with even P&G now focusing on creative quality, she will have to raise her game in this respect.

As for new business, Grey will need rather more than gushy luvvieness to woo today's generation of procurement-obsessed clients. Despite Ingram's energetic tenacity, Grey increasingly feels like a brand that is almost beyond hope.

Every now and then agencies get very excited about a new innovation that, to the rest of us, seems bleeding obvious. Over at Publicis (surely the proud owner of the most crushingly dull agency reception in town), the agency is all aflush with its new hub structure.

The hubs are all about ripping out individual offices and putting brand teams together. So the planner, account handler, creative and so on for each account now sit together, within easy shouting distance and work ... erm ... as a team.

To a journalist used to the collegiate nature of the newsdesk, this seems not only bloody obvious, but also absolutely necessary. But Publicis is right to be chuffed with its innovation. Far too many agencies still defend the idea of territorial divisions and stories of account planners not being allowed on the creative floor without prior agreement still abound. Publicis might be doing the bleeding obvious, but for some agencies out there, all this hub stuff must seem dangerously quixotic.

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