Johannesburg - "I came into the agency on May 6, when market confidence was high and I honestly expected the boom times to continue. And then everything changed," said Tim Byrne, describing his first year as CEO of Grey.
Soon they were faced with ever shrinking budgets; even before then, the agency had pretty much functioned below the radar for some time. Byrne agrees that they have been quiet, adding that there really wasn't much to share. However, he pointed to their haul from the Clio Awards and One Show this year as a sign of possible things to come.
Re-alignment of creative and client service took place, along with some management changes, which he described as having impacted on the dynamics of the organisation. Based on the AdReview Leader board, Grey lies fifth after the Cannes and D&AD awards. Radio still remains their strength - something Byrne said they will still nurture. But, he said, they need to up the ante in other areas, because "creativity is the holy grail".
TV commercials are one of these areas. Work for Amstel and Captain Morgan are already on screens and he noted that three or four others are in the pipeline. "What we need is some new work, even though we have really focused on keeping happy the clients that we do have."
Part of achieving this has been adding below the line to their offering through PodatGrey. The venture has seen them gain a year long contract with Procter and Gamble - distributers of brands such as Hugo Boss, Always and Pampers - to handle all their in-store marketing. The idea is to provide more to existing clients. To achieve this, Byrne revealed an expansion into digital advertising in future.