During a panel discussion at Advertising Week that repeatedly focused on how an agency should meld, merge, fuse and integrate its core competency with the pressing need for new-media expertise, Hardwick said he's looking to turn Grey into a shop that seamlessly blends "traditional" work with "digital" marketing strength.
"We aim to sort of smush the two together," the president of Grey's New York office said of what he hopes will become a tra-digital. paradigm.
En route, Grey has weaved its digital offshoot Yerg (a palindrome for Grey) into the flagship's operations. If clients want face time on national TV, they might get Facebook along with it.
While Hardwick, an English major, claims to have coined the "tra-digital" moniker, he might only have dibs on Madison Avenue. Five years ago, DreamWorks executive Jeffrey Katzenberg used the term when discussing the techniques behind a new animated release.
With the possibility that Grey could use the label for its own brand-building, some of Hardwick's colleagues might wish he'd kept it in-house. It's yet to be trademarked.
Thursday's panel included seven agency chiefs.
Expanding on how he'd like Grey to evolve, Hardwick, who has led the agency's flagship New York office for less than five months, said he'd like to shatter boundaries between account management, strategic planning and other entrenched silos. And he's seeking a less hierarchical structure.
Guiding him, he said, is his previous experience as president of Strawberry Frog, a slimmer, creatively focused agency where "everybody did everything." USA Today has called it "small and flexible, but (with) a global perspective."
As Hardwick looks to reform Grey, fellow panelist Mark Kingdon, CEO of digital agency Organic, said as "everybody's dealing with the legacy businesses" and exploring how they intersect with emerging media, a new agency model will likely emerge within the next 12 to 18 months.
Any archetype will have to have expertise in not just Second Life, but the "third screen," said Bob Greenberg, CEO of IPG's R/GA, a digital agency to which some have referred to as a game-changer.
As soon as next year, Greenberg said "the big change is going to be Mobile 2.0." Billions of people hunger for their handheld devices to offer information and entertainment. Advertising that works there will need to be created, he said. "We sometimes call it the 'third screen,'" Greenberg said. "That will become the 'first screen,' ultimately."
Steve Hayden, vice chairman of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, added that agencies will need to develop improved synergies with public relations groups. A successful campaign in the Information Age needs a robust PR element--and Ogilvy Public Relations now shares the same building as its namesake.