WPP's Grey has appointed New York-office Chief Creative Officer and President Tor Myhren as its new worldwide creative officer, following the retirement of outgoing Global Chief Creative Director Tim Mellors.
Global chief creative officer is the latest addition to Mr. Myrhen's duties, as he will retain his current New York roles. Since joining Grey, New York, in 2007 as chief creative officer, Mr. Myhren helped transform the once lackluster agency into a creative hotbed whose name no longer proved a fitting description of its output.
Under his watch the agency produced notable work for Febreze, the NFL and Canon, as well as verifiable pop culture hits for DirecTV and ETrade. In 2010, he added the title of Grey, New York, president to his duties and became the first ever creative in that post. He saw the agency double in size and was involved in significant business wins including Gillette from BBDO, as well as Hasbro, Marriott, Radioshack, AARP and Pfizer's Advil.
Mr. Mellors has served at Grey for 15 years. He joined in 1998 when Grey Group bought his London shop Mellors Ray and in 2003 became chief creative officer of Grey North America, followed by his promotion in 2007 to worldwide chief creative director.
As part of Mr. Myhren's new responsibilities, he will oversee the overall creative output of Grey's worldwide network. He will also be involved in global new-business pitches and will preside over Grey's Global Creative Council. Founded by Mr. Mellors, the committee of the network's top senior creative leaders gathers three times a year to strategize on how to improve the agency's creative profile.
"In addition to his creative talent, and intuitive feel for popular culture, Tor is a natural leader," said Grey Group Chairman-CEO James R. Heekin III in a statement. "He has helped shape a highly innovative, infectious and winning culture in our flagship New York agency. In his new role, he will have the opportunity to evolve this culture of innovation across our global footprint."
Bringing New Meaning to a Role
The industry often scoffs at the role of worldwide chief creative officer, often equated to little more than "awards collector," but Mr. Myhren has more meaningful plans for the job.
"Oftentimes, that's what this job is reduced to -- winning awards. But I want to make sure that this job really does have teeth," he said. "My job is about truly improving the creative culture of the agency at the core, around the globe, and really putting more strong creative leaders in powerful leadership positions. When I became president I think that had a big influence in the way people who work here see the role of creativity at this office. That is a huge, fundamental, cultural change. I want to make sure our creative leaders have a lot of say in what's happening in their offices -- from a creative standpoint, a business standpoint and a vision standpoint."
Mr. Myhren hopes to extend the creative culture built in New York across the network. "What happened organically here is that creativity truly has become the singular focus. When every department in an agency, from planning to production, holistically believes that creativity is our best and strongest weapon, that's when great things happen."
While Mr. Myhren will be focusing on the agency's global hubs, including current hotspots like Sao Paulo, Singapore and London, "there are a lot of offices globally in which creativity is not the center," he said. Worldwide, Grey has offices in 154 cities and 96 countries.
As for New York, Mr. Myhren says in the long-term he will have to step back some, but for at least the next year, it remains his top priority. He had been discussing the global position with Mr. Heekin for months, but before taking it on he wanted to make sure that he bolstered the senior leadership in the flagship office. In that time, he brought on Executive Creative Director Lisa Topol, formerly of TBWA/Chiat/Day New York, who previously worked on clients such as Pepsi and Wheat Thins; Executive Creative Director Derek Barnes, an Anomaly and W+K alum whose portfolio includes clients such as Nike, ESPN, Diet Coke, Miller; and celebrated DDB Sydney team Steve Wakelam and Nick Pringle, now group creative directors on P&G, Febreze and Ally.
Mr. Myhren's new duties, however, are already calling him out of New York. Next month, for example, he's heading to Moscow. But the role allows him to indulge in his love for travel. "Seeing the world is a passion point of mine," he said. "In that regard, the job's perfect. It lets me hang out with the most creative minds from all over. I learn from them and hopefully they'll be able to take something from me."