School Reports 2018: Grey London

Marks & Spencer
Marks & Spencer
Type of agency & ownership:  Creative agency, owned by WPP
Nielsen billings 2017: £236m (-14%)
Declared income: n/s
Total accounts at year end: 41
Accounts won: 7 (biggest: Which?)
Accounts lost: 4 (biggest: Vodafone UK)
Number of staff: 351 (-16%)
Key personnel: Leo Rayman, chief executive; Vicki Maguire, joint chief creative officer; Caroline Pay, joint chief creative officer; Matt Tanter, chief strategy officer; Olivia Browne, managing director
Star player: Frank Amponsah-Antwi, new-business account manager

What would Grey’s founders Larry Valenstein and Arthur Fatt have made of their London office in 2017, Grey’s centenary year? Here was Grey London pushing an agenda that they would have thought truly remarkable and probably rather scary. Not least in the agency’s symbolic renaming of itself as Valenstein & Fatt for 100 days, something the Jewish founders recoiled from doing in WASP-ish turn-of-the-century New York. And how would they have coped with the potty-mouthed and feisty pair of Vicki Maguire and Caroline Pay, brought together last year to form one of the few all-female creative leadership teams at a major agency?

Last year showed how far the agency has progressed. The "Spend it well" campaign, its first for Marks & Spencer since winning the account and culminating in "Paddington and the Christmas visitor" – named the public’s favourite festive ad of 2017 by Campaign, based on an Adwatch "Christmas Likeability" poll – helped confirm an evolving creative potency.

There were some setbacks, though. Vodafone, having seen its UK market share slip, moved its £50m business to Grey’s WPP sister agency Ogilvy & Mather; Procter & Gamble switched its Lenor account – held by Grey for more than 50 years – to CHI & Partners, although Grey still works on the Lenor portfolio.

However, the agency did manage to bolster its roster with some well-known names. It won the global account for Tuborg lager, while Which? handed Grey the task of making it a stronger campaigning force for consumers. It seemed an apposite appointment for an agency that’s become something of a campaigning force of its own.




6 7 7

Agency's year in a tweet

A centenary year for an agency that refuses to grow old; still hungry, still passionate, still challenging the industry we love.

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


*indicates where agencies claim the corporate governance constraints of the Sarbanes-Oxley legislation