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The Showcase 2022

Delivering New Expressions of Creativity: Grey London's 2022

A new creative momentum gave the agency a fresh impetus this year

By Creative Salon

This year marks 105 years of Grey. As anniversaries go, this is not perhaps the most significant milestone. However what is more remarkable is how under the creative leadership of Laura Jordan Bambach - the president & chief creative officer at Grey London - the once-flagging London agency seems to have come alive.

We caught up with the agency chief to discuss the agency's year. and, below, Creative Salon gives its take on Grey's past twelve months.

Laura Jordan Bambach, president & chief creative officer at Grey London

What three words would you use to describe 2022?

Energy, craft and graft

Talk us through some of your agency’s highlights this year?

This year the story has to be about the work. It’s exciting to be at Grey at the moment because the quality of the work is stellar, and it shows in the results for our clients. That’s come from all the hard work over the last few years creating a culture with creativity and entrepreneurship at its heart.

We’ve made some incredible hires and continue leading on DEIR including launching our Client Charter. We’ve won some super exciting new clients, hired some magical people and the energy is great.

We also moved to a beautiful new space in the new WPP Campus at Rose Court. Right next to Borough Market which is just a treat.

What one thing are you proudest of this year?

Changing the law in the UK around cyberflashing, making it into the new digital safety bill and having our campaign for Brook mentioned in parliament (and our assets copied by Nadine Dorries for her own channels!).

What’s been your biggest challenge?

External factors like the war in Ukraine have, as we all know, created a highly VUCA environment. Our clients have been challenged and as they’re challenged we are also, and with no way of passing on our own inflationary pressures the biggest challenge has been financial this year.

What are you most looking forward to in 2023?

Starting 2023 with a strong Q1 full of fantastic work I’m proud to put my name against, and spending another year with all the wonderful Grey crew as we sail the creative seas together.

And what one change would you most like to see in our industry next year?

There was some discussion this year about the current costs vs rewards of pitching, and I’d love to see real change here. And I think we also have to pay serious attention to how creative subjects are falling off the agenda from school through to tertiary education more, before we find ourselves with no pipeline.

Creative Salon on Grey London's 2022

Advertising needs a new kind of leadership - and this has been a rallying cry for the last few years. If ever there were an agency that needed a new shot in the arm, it's been Grey London.

Laura Jordan Bambach was installed in the leadership role less than two years ago in an industry where creative leadership at agencies is still in short supply. Her style of leadership - reflecting her passion as an empathic creative and a driven entrepreneur - appears to be working.

The fact that it moved from the moribund offices in Hatton Gardens to WPP's second London campus at Rose Court earlier this year has also unleashed an energy into the agency.

Under the leadership of Laura JB, the agency has been busy displaying a more inclusive leadership traits but also an ambition to make "famously effective ideas". In March, Grey London Grey rebranded as They London, in a push for greater visibility and representation of the trans community in advertising and in response to Government policy that continues to neglect and exclude trans people from public spaces and healthcare.

With a strengthened team that includes joint MDs Jonny Tennant-Price (who joined from Droga5 in November last year) and Nathan Gainford, executive creative director David Wigglesworth (its most recent hire and also from Droga5), head of art Costanza Rossi who joined from Publicis Milan and has been the London-lead on the Coca Cola work, and head of strategy Asad Shaykh, the agency has been delivering new expressions of creativity.

From a parody for PETA to a social film for the American sneakers brand Autry, to a series of festive films for Coca Cola and a campaign for the charity Brook that was so effective it changed UK law to make cyber flashing illegal; from the nostalgic campaign for Pringles that shared an 8-bit depiction of a Pringles chip, created using the sound of binary code, to the Superdrug 'Itty Titty' campaign where stickers were given to people when they ordered their contraceptive pill to remind them to check their breasts, the work has a new energy.

The agency did part company with its CSO Raquel Chicourel, originally hired by the previous Grey London chief executive Anna Panczyk. While a replacement is found, Jonathan Lee, global chief strategy and data officer at Grey, based in New York, will oversee strategy for Grey's clients. 

Creative Salon Says: Laura JB has been busy restoring a sense of purpose and stability to Grey London. She certainly has the boldness, vision and strength of conviction to build on what Grey London once was while giving the agency a new focus. If Grey can add some coveted new clients to its portfolio next year, whilst keeping up its creative momentum, the agency will be one to watch.


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