Grey London Hit Hard as Nils Leonard, Lucy Jameson, Natalie Graeme Resign en Masse

Agency's creative chief, CEO and MD are gone

Headshot of Tim Nudd

Grey London found itself reeling Tuesday as its top three executives announced their resignations en masse.

Nils Leonard, Lucy Jameson and Natalie Graeme—the shop's chairman/chief creative officer, CEO and managing director, respectively—informed Grey management they are leaving "to pursue their own interests," according to a statement from David Patton, president and CEO of Grey EMEA.

The trio are expected to go into business together, a source told Adweek, though their exact plans are not yet known.

Lucy Jameson and Natalie Graeme

It is a major blow for the agency, as Leonard, Jameson and Graeme have transformed the London operation into a major creative and business force in the U.K. market. Creatively, the agency has been ascendant for years, culminating in two Grand Prix at Cannes last year for its Volvo Lifepaint work. It also picked up 17 Lions this year for work on behalf of Tate Britain, WildAid and HSBC.

"They have our most sincere thanks and best wishes for continued success," Patton said.

Leo Rayman succeeds Jameson as CEO. "Leo has done a superb job over the past three and a half years as Grey London's and Grey EMEA's chief strategy officer," Patton said. "Having achieved such strategic successes, he has been ready to step ­up to the leadership role for some time."

Vicky Maguire and Dominic Goldman remain executive creative directors, running the creative department. Perry Nightingale continues as executive creative technology director.

The agency is putting a brave face on its prospects going forward, despite losing its top three leaders at once.

"Grey London is in a very strong place," Patton said. "It has never had a deeper, more diverse bench of talent with strong creative, strategic planning and account leadership in place to fuel our momentum and break new ground, with culturally ambitious ideas and experiences across platforms."

He added: "Whilst not wanting to trigger such events, we've long had succession plans in place so management transition will happen smoothly—as such, I'm very confident the new management team will be very well supported by all of the 450 employees at Grey London."

Rayman said: "Grey's culture is what makes us different, and it's bigger than any one of us. We're now going to accelerate the Grey project, strengthening our position as the most progressive creative firm in London, with brave culturally ­impactful work and acquisitions in tech and data."

Adweek had dinner with Leonard, Jameson and Graeme last Monday at the Cannes festival, where much of their energy was focused on Leonard's upcoming main stage chat with Iggy Pop. That he was chosen to present the annual Grey Music Seminar at Cannes was another indication that Leonard had himself achieved rock-star status within the agency.

He could not be reached for comment about his exit.

Adweek also shot a video with Leonard at Cannes. Check that out above. 

@nudd Tim Nudd is a former creative editor of Adweek.
Publish date: June 28, 2016 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT