School Reports 2013: Grey London

British Heart Foundation
British Heart Foundation

Score: 8  Last year: 6

As if from nowhere, Grey London suddenly became one of the most-talked-about agencies of 2012. Not only for its great creative work but also for its impressive new-business record.

The WPP-owned agency built on solid foundations to become an agency to be reckoned with. The management team, led by the chief executive, Chris Hirst, drove this transformation, which was spearheaded by the executive creative director, Nils Leonard.

Grey also completed the rest of its management line-up throughout the year by hiring Lucy Jameson as its chief strategy officer from DDB UK, where she was the executive strategy director. It also appointed Bill Scott as its managing director from Bartle Bogle Hegarty, where he was the client services director.

The beginning of 2012 started with a bang for the agency after the launch of its British Heart Foundation "hard and fast" campaign featuring Vinnie Jones. The work went from strength to strength, going on to win multiple awards including a gold at the Campaign Big Awards, a gold Media Lion and two bronzes in the Integrated and Promo & Activation categories at Cannes.

While this was by far the agency’s best work of the year, other good work launched for News International and Fairy, whose "Olympic tables" campaign ranked as the fourth-most-memorable TV ad from an Olympic sponsor, according to a study by Nielsen.

The agency also saw impressive new-business growth, capturing 15 new accounts. These included News International’s £28 million advertising account, Duracell’s £15 million global business and Seat’s £12 million UK and pan-European work. Its largest loss was Aquafresh, due to an international realignment.

2012 was one of Grey’s most memorable and proved it is on a winning path. More of the same, across a greater range of its client base, would be welcome during 2013.

Grey London
Type of agency Advertising
Company ownership WPP
Key personnel Chris Hirst chief executive
Nils Leonard executive creative director
Lucy Jameson, chief strategy officer
Bill Scott managing director
Leo Rayman head of planning
Nielsen billings 2012 £137m
Nielsen billings 2011 £138m
Declared income n/s
Total accounts at year end 23
Accounts won 15 (biggest: News International)
Accounts lost 2 (biggest: Aquafresh)
Number of staff 265 (+35%)

Score key: 9 Outstanding 8 Excellent 7 Good 6 Satisfactory 5 Adequate 4 Below average 3 Poor 2 A year to forget 1 Survival in question

How Grey London rates itself: 8

"A tough, but fantastic year. And most of the time, we had fun along the way. Aiming for bigger, noisier and better in 2013."