Grey New York needs not one but two executives to oversee its rapidly growing Activation and PR team.
The flagship office of WPP's Grey is naming Oliver Handlos and Elizabeth Valleau as co-creative Leads to help guide the team in developing non-traditional marketing programs. As one of the only marketing communications organizations with a full-service public relations and activation department embedded directly within the agency, Grey Activation & PR creates work for clients such as TNT, Marriott Hotels, Volvo, Canon USA, Papa John’s, the NFL and the National Park Foundation.
“These new hires add to our focus on creating action for brands, ensuring our agency model is ahead of the curve," says Andreas Dahlqvist, Chief Creative Officer of Grey New York. "Advertising is increasingly about engagement and some of the most interesting ideas are being created in the Activation & PR space right now. We’ve had great success with campaigns like Canon’s Project Imagination, Guns With History, Volvo Interception and The Dallas Gas Station, to name a few and we’ll continue to elevate our work in this area.”
Handlos comes to Grey New York from Grey Berlin where he most recently served as Executive Creative Director/Managing Director. In January 2014, Oliver opened up the new Grey office in Berlin together with his managing partner Matthias Meusel.
Starting with zero clients, the agency won substantial new business such as Germany's biggest Sunday newspaper, Welt, Discovery Network and Heineken.
Valleau joins from Trollback + Co. where she was Executive Creative Director leading the BBC and United Nations work. Previously, she was the creative spearhead for experience and activation practices at R/GA and produced award-winning work for clients such as Google, Nike, Microsoft, Unilever and Estee Lauder. She also worked for Sean Combs at Badboy Worldwide, working on Ciroc, Sean John, Guinness and Atlantic Records.
These two hires underline the agency's heightened focus on evolving the traditional advertising model. “Hiring our new creatives marks a very exciting time for Grey Activation & PR and the agency-at-large as we show the power of integration,” said Claudia Strauss, Chief Executive Officer of Grey Activation & PR. “For years, our group has been pushing the boundaries of what advertising is and Elizabeth and Oliver will help us dream up new ways to put our brands in action.”
They will oversee four on staff as of now, with additional staff to be added in the coming months.
"Together they are charged as partners with driving continued creativity for the practice and overseeing the creative output overall," says Strauss. "That being said, Elizabeth and Oliver might focus on certain accounts or opportunities as makes sense."
Still, Grey didn't originally intend to hire two executives when it started its search several months ago. "In the very short time of the search, the Activation and PR practice experienced incredible growth as well as greater visibility due to the Cannes Lions wins," says Strauss. "These two factors made it clear early on that we could use a team of Creative Leaders. We were incredibly fortunate to find the amazing and talented team of Oliver and Elizabeth. They are both unique, immensely gifted, wonderfully collaborative and inspiring."
They join an agency on the upswing. Grey New York reports it is likely to achieve its seventh year of record financial and creative performance in 2015. Key new business wins include Nestle's Stouffer's Lean Cuisine; Haagen Dazs (digital); The Whitney Museum of American Art; Pandora; Venus, Braun and the Art of Shaving and Folger’s coffees.