GREYS PRINCE OF POP CULTURE GREYS PRINCE OF POP CULTURE
Tor Myhren made those talking babies famous – and now he’s intent on putting advertising at the heart of the cultural conversation.
stycznia 3, 2016
2015 WAS truly a spectacular year at Cannes for Grey, with 113 Lions, including 21 Golds and no fewer than four Grand Prix, a haul beyond anybody’s expectations of an agency network once regarded as unexciting. The spoils spanned 18 countries and 20 categories, with New York, London and Berlin taking the top honours. But for Tor Myhren, Grey’s chief creative officer, the icing on the cake was that “every time one of our agencies won, all the others were on their feet with a standing ovation.”
That mutual support is emblematic of the team spirit that pervades Grey’s agencies, says Myhren. “I think we have a very special thing going right now. I really believe we are the best agency in the world, by almost any criterion. A couple of agencies at Cannes won more awards than us, but none won better Lions than us.”
Success in the south of France provided further endorsement of the remarkable transformation in Grey’s reputation that has occurred over the last seven or eight years, masterminded by Myhren in a close partnership with Grey’s veteran CEO Jim Heekin. Recognition started in 2010 with Grey New York being selected by Fast Company as one of the 50 most innovative companies in the world, and has culminated in a string of Agency of the Year awards.
Myhren arrived as CCO at Grey New York in 2007 and became president three years later, then worldwide CCO in 2013. From the outset, no campaign did more to put the agency on the map than the E*Trade ‘Baby’ campaign which for five years was probably the most talked-about campaign in North America. “I had no idea it was going to be as big as it was,” says Myhren. “In fact I was terrified as it was my first campaign at Grey. I started in October and it ran in the Super Bowl in January.” The first ad featured poorly-produced webcam footage of a baby talking about buying shares, a deliberate stand-out from the customary Super Bowl extravaganza. “A talking baby’s been done a hundred times, but we did it a little differently, certainly gave it a less expected voice, and for whatever reason it just hit like a bomb in pop culture,” reflects Myhren. He credits client Nick Utton for sticking with the campaign after the first two ads.