For 91 of its 93 years in business, no one has ever mistaken Grey for a creative hotbed pumping out cutting-edge ideas. But over the past two years, Tor Myhren, chief creative officer of Grey, New York, has been moving the dial on that front by creating a mix of work that has been embraced by pop culture as well as the advertising community.
"There are plenty of popular campaigns the typical creative director-types look down upon," Mr. Myhren said. "But we've been managing to put out work that's embraced by both groups." E-Trade's talking-baby adsand the Best Fans spots for the NFL are examples of the type of work that's striking a chord with both groups.
Mr. Myhren is also pushing a cultural shift within the shop: He spent two years working with architects on the agency's new HQ, creating an environment that wouldn't just foster collaboration and creativity but force it. Amazingly, the agency went from occupying 37 floors in its old layout to just six in the new one. The result was an open floor plan with no offices or even cubicles. "When you get more minds on an idea and collaboration, it becomes a lot bigger," Mr. Myhren said.
So far Mr. Myhren has managed to effect significant change, but he knows the boulder is still at the bottom of a very steep hill. "We've had a couple of good years creatively, but there is still a 91-year-old reputation we have to overcome, and redefining what Grey stands for will not happen overnight," he said. "Our work has just begun."
See the rest of the 2010 Creativity 50 here.