The great Grey breakaway and the joy of risk-taking

The great Grey breakaway and the joy of risk-taking

Not since Helen Calcraft, Andy Nairn and Danny Brooke-Taylor finally put months of speculation to an end by confirming that they were reuniting for the launch of Lucky Generals, has there been so much excitement around a breakaway.

In its three years of existence Lucky Generals has more than lived up to expectations and has snapped at the heels of the UK’s best agencies to become a real contender for Campaign’s Agency of the Year – few doubt that given the quality and breadth of its work and its new business vim it’ll be a real contender again this year.

For Nils Leonard, Lucy Jameson and Natalie Graeme the expectations will be equally high – as a combination of proven talent (with a dash of unashamed self-promotion) it’s one that marketers should find very compelling.

It’s just a shame that we will have to wait until the middle of next year to sample the approach that industry observers believe will be based around "harnessing culture".

It sounds suspiciously as if they are hoping to hitch a ride on the coattails of the award-winning Volvo "Life paint" campaign, which would be a shame. While innovative, it’s in danger of becoming as over-exposed and tedious as OgilvyOne’s Cern "gnome" that went before it.

Moreover, the trio have overseen campaigns that are far bigger than this and show real craft – and there’s nothing to be ashamed of that.

While the rumour mill that Leonard was planning his next move has been doing the rounds of the Soho tap rooms for a while – and given that he’s one of the best creative directors around it’s no great surprise – the fact he’s doing it with a significant chunk of the Grey London management team is still quite dramatic and exciting.

The industry needs a vigorous independent sector to challenge the holding companies and keep creativity on its toes and the trio should be applauded given that there have been so few of any great heft in recent years and that the current economic situation is in danger of engendering further caution among marketers and agencies alike.

The industry needs a vigorous independent sector to challenge the holding companies and keep creativity on its toes.

One former independent that went on to greater things holds its annual party this week – a highlight of the summer season. Blue449, formerly Walker Media, was one of the most exciting start-ups of the 90s as it shook up the soporific world of media planning and buying.

It seems astonishing that was nearly twenty years ago – only Goodstuff Communications and the7stars have subsequently managed to emulate its success, to a greater or lesser degree.

As a bellwether, maybe the marquees of the House Festival are probably about as representative of the state of our business as those yachts moored up on the Jetee Albert Edouard just a couple of weeks ago.

But at least it helps remind ourselves how lucky we are to work in this business – and God knows we all need that once in a while. More importantly though it shows that taking a risk and striking it alone can pay off – something that the talented Leonard, Jameson and Graeme will also be hoping.

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