Jim Heekin

Reports from our company leaders


Jim Heekin

Report by Jim Heekin
Chairman and chief executive officer


016 marked our ninth year in a row of record financial and creative performance. We began the year with Global Agency of the Year honors from Adweek and continued our momentum.

High-profile new business wins included Marriott International, Weber, Procter & Gamble’s Herbal Essences, Marks & Spencer, C&A and Bose. Many of our current clients awarded us significant new assignments including Eli Lilly, Kellogg’s, Ally Financial, Pfizer and Nestlé. Importantly, we emerged from the GlaxoSmithKline global review with five global brands, one more than we previously served. And early 2017 marked the announcement of Walgreens Boots Alliance’s global account consolidation with Team WBA, of which Grey is a key member. Grey will be the client’s lead advertising agency in the US.

Our creative reputation continued to soar at the Cannes International Festival of Creativity. We won 93 Lions from 14 countries in four regions, including a Grand Prix and Titanium Lion. Grey won in 20 categories from film, radio and outdoor to the newest disciplines of mobile, creative data and entertainment. The agency ranked sixth globally and Grey New York ranked as the No.1 most creative agency in the US and North America and No.2 in the world.

Adweek wrote, “Grey is winning big for work that worked and busted through the boundaries of advertising. It’s entertaining, inspiring, useful stuff; meaningful work that people want to be around.”

Our Gillette Olympic commercial, ‘Perfect Isn’t Pretty,’ chosen by Procter & Gamble to run in the opening ceremony, to our ‘Song of the Open Road’ for Volvo to ‘Super Bowl Babies Choir’ for the NFL, all exploded in popular culture true to our ‘Famously Effective’ philosophy.

We enhanced our leadership ranks for the future with the promotion of several talented executives who have driven our success for years. Michael Houston took up his duties as global president of Grey, an expanded worldwide management role. Alain Groenendaal was appointed president and chief executive officer of Grey Europe, after leading Grey Latin America. Eduardo Maruri became president of Grey Latin America, having built our market-leading agency in Ecuador. Nirvik Singh, who has been key to our growth in Asia for nearly three decades, took on added duties as chairman and chief executive officer of Grey Asia, Middle East and Africa. Per Pedersen, our chairman of the Grey Global Creative Council, was named global creative chairman. Importantly, Debby Reiner became chief executive officer of Grey New York, a new position. During her many years of leading our Procter & Gamble business, Grey has become one of the foremost beauty agencies in the world.

Adweek wrote, “Grey is winning big for work... that busted through the boundaries of advertising... entertaining, inspiring, useful stuff”

Grey continued its strategic acquisitions to enhance the network’s capabilities and critical mass. We acquired Tank, a leading healthcare and consumer agency in Canada. We strengthened our presence in the Benelux region acquiring FamousGrey, one of the largest independent agencies. In Ecuador, we took a majority stake in Maruri Grey, our long-time partner. Finally, we continued our expansion in China, acquiring Easycom, a premier social media agency in Shanghai.

Not many advertising agencies survive yet alone thrive to mark their centennial. As we celebrate our 100th anniversary throughout 2017, I’m convinced Grey’s best days lie ahead.