School Reports 2017: Grey London


Score: 7
Last year: 9

How the agency rates itself: 8

2016 was quite a year for Grey London. The momentum of a stellar 2015 continued, with the agency winning the Science Museum and the European creative account for Nomad Foods (Birds Eye, Findus and Iglo).

Then came "Grexit" – the day when the agency lost its figurehead, chief creative officer and chairman, Nils Leonard, along with chief executive Lucy Jameson and managing director Natalie Graeme.

But kudos to Grey for two things. First, managing to promote internally and quickly, showing that the agency’s culture is more than skin deep. Leo Rayman became chief executive, Matt Tanter replaced him as chief strategy officer and Wayne Brown became chief operating officer. Second, it won the £60m creative account for Marks & Spencer, a longed-for major retail client, despite Grexit coming bang in the middle of the pitch process. Score.

Grey also continued to produce some great work. Top of the pile was its powerful film for Bose, in which a girl dances in deserted London streets. Its McVitie’s Digestives spot featuring kittens was the public’s favourite ad of the year (according to Campaign’s Adwatch). The agency also helped WildAid to live-stream the biggest ivory cremation in Kenya.

Grey’s work for Tate, "500 years of stories", received a gold at Cannes. It was the most awarded agency at D&AD and won the Marketing Society’s Grand Prix for Sensodyne.

The biggest loss was Fairy, on which Grey had worked since 1983. Scope, Magrabi and Watches of Switzerland also left. And by the year’s end, its £53m UK Vodafone account was set to leave for Ogilvy. Grey should be congratulated for conducting itself so well in the face of adversity. How the agency performs in 2017 will be the real test.

How the agency describes its year in a tweet

Not dull.

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