ADVERTISING & PROMOTION: Agency of the week: Grey advertising

With two campaigns in the table, Grey Advertising is one of this week’s top-performing Adwatch agencies. With work like Allied Dunbar under its belt, perhaps the old adage about ‘Grey by name, grey by nature’ is no longer true.

With two campaigns in the table, Grey Advertising is one of this week’s

top-performing Adwatch agencies. With work like Allied Dunbar under its

belt, perhaps the old adage about ‘Grey by name, grey by nature’ is no

longer true.

The agency is still cursed with the moniker chosen by its founders who

named the firm after the colour of the wallpaper (honestly), but Grey is

becoming more than a bastion of account-handling.

In his three years as managing director, Nigel Sharrocks, with the

support of chairman Roger Edwards, has been steadily transforming the

agency and building on its strengths, many of which come from being part

of a huge American network.

The closure of Grey’s ‘fashion ’n’ fragrance arm’, The Chelsea

Partnership, in May was one of few low points in a period which has seen

the agency rise to number nine in the billings league.

Significant hirings include planning director Peter Field (previously

with BMP-DP and Abbott Mead Vickers), Julian Neuburger (former GGT media

director) and top copywriter and creative director Barbara Nokes. In

addition, Grey has recruited group account director Miriam Jordan-Keane,

as well as creative duo Maxine Formaggi and Nick Schon, all from Saatchi

& Saatchi. Paul Smith, executive creative director since 1994, re-

organised his department last year and has now rejuvenated the TV


The troops, according to Sharrocks, are now assembled. Grey’s ambition

has never been in doubt but it has never before been able to claim such

a talented, well-trained army. Sharrocks’s strategy is sensible

progression, ‘working hard to improve performance with advertising which

combines simple strategic thought and good campaignable ideas’.

Campaigns such as Allied Dunbar exemplify his ideal. Brand director

David Sims pays tribute to the agency’s planning strengths as well as

its award-winning creative performance. He adds: ‘They work well with us

to create an understanding which results in effective work. Our meetings

are not always easy, but they are always productive. It’s an open,

involved relationship.’

Although the agency’s P&G-advertising is improving with successful

campaigns such as Pantene and Lenor, Grey’s top-scorer this week is

Fairy Liquid, a campaign which seems to be struggling to find a vehicle

to replace Nanette Newman.

The past few years have been evolution, not revolution. The walls are no

longer grey, but they’re certainly not red hot either. Grey is still no

hotshop, but that’s of no concern to Sharrocks and Edwards. They want to

turn a sturdy design into a classic, not make a fashion statement.


Grey Advertising


Billings (1995)             pounds 301m

New business (1996)         Ben Sherman, Boss Fragrances, Gaymers Olde

                            English, Stowells of Chelsea, K Cider, Bosch

Losses (1996)               Autoglass, Great Western Railways

Key clients                 Allied Dunbar, Lee Jeans, COI, Canon,

                            Matthew Clark Taunton, Procter & Gamble,

                            Mars, SmithKline Beecham, BAT

Key people                  Roger Edwards (chairman), Nigel Sharrocks

                            (managing director), Paul Smith (executive

                            creative director)



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