US court papers reveal kickback scandal at Grey London

“We’re cheating and stealing from our clients. That is the truth,” is what Steve Blamer, the newly-appointed CEO of Grey London is alleged to have said to managing director Roger Edwards and finance director Roy Wilson when he inspected the books on taking over the London office on 1998.

This was a reaction to his discovery that the agency had failed to return substantial print discounts to its clients whop included Procter & Gamble, Mars, British American Tobacco and GSK. In total these are said to amount to $5.6m.

Blamer subsequently headed Grey Global then FCB before stepping down as the US head of UK mini-marcoms outfit Creston earlier this year.

These juicy details have emerged from New York court papers finally released in July after Grey’s lawyers finally gave way after years of suppressing them. Grey, now owned by WPP (it wasn’t then) probably reasons that this is all sufficiently historical not to damage it too much.

But it’s a shocking yarn, described in all its gory detail by bnet’s Jim Edwards here and summarised by Stuart Smith here.

At least Blamer and Edwards conspired to give the money back to their clients (without telling them, of course) although it’s unclear whether they succeeded or not.

At one point Edwards says that Mars, a ‘vicious’ client apparently, might punish the agency by taking away a brand. That’s punishment?

And who’d be an account man?

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.