School Reports 2011: Grey London

Grey was the dark horse of 2010. There was a point in the latter part of the year when the agency seemed to be winning new business every week. Led by the chief executive, Chris Hirst, it continued with its mission to throw off its "big but dull" reputation of old and get some dynamism going.

Recent Grey London work: British Heart Foundation
Recent Grey London work: British Heart Foundation

Score: 7

Agency fact file: Grey London
Type of agency Communications
Company ownership WPP
Key personnel Chris Hirst chief executive
  Neil Hourston chief strategy officer
  Nils Leonard executive creative director
  Simon White joint managing director
  Hugo Feiler joint managing director
The Nielsen Company billings 2010 £126m
The Nielsen Company billings 2009 £104m
Declared income n/s
Total accounts at year end 50
Accounts won 11 (biggest: Lucozade)
Accounts lost 2 (biggest: Flash)
Number of staff 180 (+3%)

Clients certainly seem to be taking notice. Sony appointed Grey to handle the 2011 global brand campaign for its Bravia TV range, while GlaxoSmithKline awarded the agency its £7 million UK and Ireland Lucozade Energy advertising. Grey also picked up Findus without a pitch and Ginsters'

£2 million advertising business, plus the pan-European account for Brother.

Nils Leonard had become the executive creative director at the end of 2009, replacing Jon Williams, who was promoted to chief digital officer across Europe, with a mandate to shake up the creative offering further and ensure that each department embraced integration. Leonard poached fresh talent by hiring the Bartle Bogle Hegarty duo Dave Monk and Matt Waller as creative directors.

In addition, Grey pushed forward with its "long idea" ethos - the aim being to deliver ideas that are bigger, broader and more long-lasting than a traditional TV campaign, as evidenced by the Honda "live every litre" campaign, which resulted in a crowdsourced documentary. The agency also created a comedy stage show, The Angina Monologues, for the British Heart Foundation, which later aired on Sky.

The challenge for Grey in 2011 will be to make this creative leap with its larger clients. Luckily, it has new momentum and a gaggle of new clients with which to demonstrate this new-found creative energy.

Score last year: 7

How Grey London rates itself: 8

"We've had another good year. If you're frustrated with where you are and/or the way our industry tends to work, and are interested in working at an agency where none of us are as smart as all of us, give us a call."

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