Grey and E-Trade Split as Agency Review Is Launched

Marks End of Six-Year Relationship

By Published on .

Grey was in charge of bringing up baby for E-Trade
Grey was in charge of bringing up baby for E-Trade

E-Trade and longtime agency Grey New York are parting ways, ending a six-year relationship that arguably marked a turnaround in the WPP-owned shop's creative fortunes.

People familiar with the matter said the marketer is in the initial stages of a request-for-proposal process to select a new agency of record. A group of shops including Grey were sent non-disclosure agreements, but Grey, the shop that's overseen the popular talking-baby campaign since 2008, decided not to participate.

A memo to employees from Grey President Tor Myhren and Chief Operating Officer Michael Houston, said the decision was in "both Grey's and E-Trade's best interests." The memo portrayed the split as the agency resigning the account.

E-Trade, on the other hand, portrayed it as part of a review process.

"We recently began a search to identify the best-suited agency to help us drive our branding & advertising through the next phase of our evolution," said Liza Landsman, chief marketing officer, E-Trade Financial Corp. "Grey N.Y., our agency of record for the past six years, has decided not to participate in this process. They are a terrific partner and we are deeply appreciative of their wonderful contributions. As we look to the future, we are excited about the ongoing opportunities for our business and the great brand platform and assets we can leverage as we write our next chapter with new partners." It is not clear whether the company will retire the talking baby and begin afresh.

The news comes a few months after AdAge reported that Nick Utton, the chief marketing officer behind the talking babies, left E-Trade. The online brokerage firm hired Ms. Landsman, formerly of investment management company Blackrock, as marketing lead in April.

The Grey memo is reproduced in full below.

After a spectacularly successful six-year run, we are resigning the E-Trade Financial account.
We think it's in both Grey's and E-Trade's best interests. Think of the history we've made. It's worth celebrating.
Across six Super Bowls, the street-wise baby became synonymous with the E-Trade brand's maverick, consumer-championing DNA, proving online investing is so easy a baby can do it.
The E-Trade baby set new records for popularity and effectiveness in the Super Bowl, delivering sales success and unprecedented media buzz in broadcast, print and social media. The commercials were ranked among the "most popular" on the game by CBS, USA Today, AdWeek, Advertising Age, Time, TiVo and Nielsen, generating over 60 million YouTube views. In addition, creative recognition for the baby and his friends included Effies, One Show, London International, AICP and D&AD honors. And it was also voted the best campaign in America two straight years by the Wall Street Journal.
E-Trade, and all the terrific people we've worked with, have our everlasting gratitude and best wishes for continued success. We will always look back on this relationship as one of the best and most famously effective in Grey's history.
Of course, we will do everything in our power to ensure a smooth transition over the coming months.
Thanks to everyone for all you've done on this game-changing account for Grey. Let us never forget this was the brand and the work that began our turnaround.
--Tor and Michael.
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