Matthew Miller
Jan 12, 2017

Grey names trio of creative and strategy leaders

Agency adds APAC strategy officer, brings in new creative and strategic execs for GSK and the Singapore office.

L-R: Cotton, Tesch, Singh, Strydom
L-R: Cotton, Tesch, Singh, Strydom

Grey Group Asia Pacific is adding to its core leadership team in the region and its Singapore office with a trio of senior appointments:

  • Måns Tesch, chief strategy officer for Grey Group Asia Pacific: This is a newly created role, reporting to Nirvik Singh, chairman and CEO of Grey Group, Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa. Tesch was previously with Crispin Porter + Bogusky, where he was chief strategy officer for Scandinavia, based in Stockholm.
  • Marthinus Strydom, global creative leader for GSK, Grey Group Singapore: He will report to Konstantin Popovic, EVP and global business director for GSK, and to Ali Shabaz, chief creative officer of Grey Group Southeast Asia. Strydom was most recently creative director at BBH Asia Pacific for six years, where he worked with Google, Ikea, UOB Bank, Chupa Chups, and Vaseline.
  • Neil Cotton as global strategy director for GSK and chief strategy officer for Grey Singapore. He will report to Subbaraju Alluri, CEO for Singapore and Thailand. Cotton joins from Liberty Networks, a brand and innovation consultancy he founded in 2011, where his clients included Unilever, Infiniti and OCBC.

The following two executives have recently left the agency:

  • Till Hohmann, who was executive creative director for GSK and vice president, Grey Group Singapore. He has joined Serviceplan Group agency Campaign 1 in Munich as managing director and creative lead.
  • Judd Labarthe, who was global strategy director for GSK and head of planning, Grey and Grey Digital. His next role is unknown. 

Both of the departing executives left of their own accord and for personal reasons, according to a spokesperson. That being said, the moves can be read as an infusion of new but seasoned talent following a year when many people will remember Grey for bringing criticism upon itself over an app. Among the new leaders, only Cotton has worked with Grey before, and that was a brief stint in London from 1989 to 1990.

"Most industries are evolving, and this one is at an even faster pace than most," Singh told Campaign Asia-Pacific. "Grey is responding by powering up and hiring the best talent out there. High-calibre people help raise the bar, and this leads to cutting-edge work—which is what we are always striving for at Grey.”

Added Cotton, “You only have look at how Grey has re-invented itself in some of its most prominent hubs like London and New York to know there’s something really interesting going on in the organisation. Grey in Asia/Singapore is a great example of an agency that truly understands what it means to be integrated, which is something few of its competitors can boast." 

Tesch will be tasked with leading the strategic direction and "continuous digital transformation" of the agency. His career includes founding creative digital shop Tesch & Tesch in Stockholm in 1996, which was acquired by Lowe Worldwide in 2002 and merged with Lowe Brindfors in 2007. He then became global digital strategy director for Lowe, based in London, and later worked at Fallon, Razorfish and Wieden+Kennedy, between which he launched his own strategic and creative consultancy. He has been recognised as a "Digital Pioneer" by the FWA has participated on numerous jury panels including the Campaign Big Awards, Creative Circle, and D&AD.

“Grey has been on an awe-inspiring run for years now, and I’m honoured and thrilled to join an agency that constantly brings great creative work to the world that actually make brands more relevant in people’s daily lives," he said.

Strydom, with Shabaz, will set the overall creative direction for the GSK team, which has about 40 staff members in Singapore and handles the Panadol account globally, as well as Scotts and Horlicks in Southeast Asia. In addition to BBH, his career includes a stint at BBDO in New York, and his work has won awards at D&AD, the Webby awards, Cannes, One Show and the Effies.

Cotton will oversee strategy and planning as well as help to "design a path for repositioning, growth and improved profitability in an environment of increasing competition and constant change", the agency said. In addition to Liberty Networks, his 27-year industry career includes roles as regional chief strategy officer at Young & Rubicam, Singapore (2009 to 2011); founder of GMT+8 Consulting, Hong Kong and Shanghai (2007 to 2009); regional chief strategy officer at Lowe Worldwide Hong Kong (2005 to 2007); regional head of planning at Bates in Hong Kong (2002 to 2005); and senior partner and worldwide group planning director at Ogilvy & Mather in New York (1992 to 2002). He has worked with brands including Coca Cola, Johnson & Johnson, Heineken, Audi, IBM, and Nokia.

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