Martin Smith teams up with Morris and Grounds in start-up

Martin Smith, the former Grey London chief executive, is returning to the agency scene with a start-up in partnership with the ex-Euro RSCG joint creative chiefs Steve Grounds and Rob Morris.

The fledgling operation, to be called Grounds Morris Smith, begins life with two unnamed clients.

Its formation comes 17 months after the demise of Smith's former shop, Rapley Smith & Jones. It folded after less than a year in business, having been beaten by Fallon in a pitch for the £70 million pan-European Sony Electronics account.

Smith, a former Bartle Bogle Hegarty deputy chairman, said the start-up aimed to bring simplicity and experience back to the business. "There would appear to be a gap in the market for clients looking for hands-on commitment outside the Big Five," he said. "Clients are becoming concerned by the lack of choice."

Grounds and Morris quit as the creative directors of the through-the-line agency Edge/gmc in the summer of 2002 after a disagreement over the agency's creative direction.

Grounds and Morris were among the leading advocates of an abortive attempt to establish creative independents as a serious force in UK advertising in the mid-90s. Grounds said: "The world has moved on and there is a real hunger for agencies that are run for their clients rather than themselves."

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