Would the last person to leave Grey London please turn out the lights? After CCO Vicky Maguire’s defection to Havas comes the news that CMO Sarah Jenkins (left) is moving to the role of MD at Saatchi & Saatchi.
Jenkins is a well known figure in the industry and never afraid to speak out about diversity issues, which should fit well with her new duties at Saatchi, where she will be in charge of recruitment, talent development, culture, agency positioning and marketing, as well as working with clients. She says her biggest motivation for joining is that Saatchi’s “creative ambition is through the roof.”
Grey was a creative beacon for WPP only a few short years ago, winning at Cannes with its Volvo “Life Paint” work and nabbing the coveted Marks & Spencer account from its WPP rival, Y&R. First CEO Chris Hirst went to Havas in 2015, then in 2016 the UK management team — chairman and creative director Nils Leonard, CEO Lucy Jameson and MD Natalie Graeme – left to set up Uncommon, while David Patton, president and CEO of Grey Europe (and former revered Sony client) moved over to Y&R.
At that point there was still a chance that the next generation might come through and maintain the agency’s reputation. But they have fallen like dominoes. In 2017, COO Wayne Brown left for Play Sports Group; in 2018 Caroline Pay quit as joint CCO after only a year and headed to Headspace, and CEO Leo Rayman left to work on a WPP consulting venture. Tim Rogowski’s name may not be that familiar, but he was business director for Volvo and News UK, and he moved to Gravity Road earlier this year.
This summer CSO Matt Tanter moved to Mother, and now Jenkins and Maguire have finally left the building, along with flagship clients Lucozade and M&S clothing and home. M&S food is hanging on in there but they are rehashing old work.
That leaves two relative newcomers – although both experienced individuals – running Grey London. At the start of this year, Adrian Rossi joined from AMV BBDO as creative chairman and Anna Pancyzk moved from CEO of Grey Poland to CEO of the London shop.
Pancyzk and Rossi are doing their best to present themselves as a dynamic duo, and have promised that no department will be untouched in their efforts to inject new life into the agency, but they can’t have hoped to have this clean a slate to work with.
When Mark Read took on the WPP CEO role a year ago, he quickly merged Y&R with VML and Wunderman with JWT, but Grey – despite rumours of an AKQA merger – looked like it might remain untouched. Grey is stronger in other countries outside the UK, but AKQA is strongest in London, so suddenly it makes sense again to bring the two together.