“Annex historically and moving forward will still do the same thing—we chase the conversation," Gray said. “In its inception, it was called digital and really that was a misnomer because it's kind of social [media], but that was when no one knew what it was. Now it's so much table stakes that I think that type of qualification actually is diminutive of the impact of what you can have. We're chasing the culture and the conversation, the communities and where people are. And I think that's where the biggest distinction is. We still want that media budget. We want the media to follow and fuel where the conversation is versus the media being the metric of success that dictates where the work goes.”
“The media landscape has evolved, so has [Annex88's] capabilities, so I wouldn't call them a digital agency anymore,” Lucey said.
Shifts at Grey
The news comes as Grey experiences several big executive moves. Just last week it was reported that Grey New York’s Chief Creative Officer Justine Armour and John Patroulis, Grey’s global creative chairman and president, creative business, were leaving the agency due to personal reasons. In June, Grey’s Global CEO Michael Houston was named the first U.S. president of WPP.
Outside of his agency work, Gray was part of the Black Madison Ave. documentary that came out earlier this year. It featured seven Black executive creative directors dissecting the lack of diverse representation in creative executive roles in the ad industry. In March, when describing the film, Walt Geer III, VMLY&R’s chief experience design officer, said in a statement that there seemed to be only nine black executive creative directors at the top holding companies in the U.S.
“It's very rare air,” Gray said, regarding being a Black chief creative officer. “I'm respectful and appreciative of that. It's not enough. We have the weight on our shoulders to prove how great we can be. So I'm excited to get going and I'm excited for not only the talent, but the clients that are thirsty for something a bit different.”