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Grey Group appoints Michael Houston as Worldwide CEO

James R. Heekin, who has led the company, as Chairman and CEO of Grey Group since 2007, will remain Executive Chairman

(L) Michael Houston and James R Heekin (R)

Marking the exact anniversary of its founding 100 years ago, Grey Group has announced the appointment of its next generation of leadership with the promotion of Michael Houston to Worldwide Chief Executive Officer of Grey Group, effective immediately.  A ten-year veteran of Grey, he has served since 2016 as Global President and becomes only the fifth person to hold the CEO position since Grey’s founding in 1917. 

James R. Heekin, who has led the company, as Chairman and CEO of Grey Group since 2007, will remain Executive Chairman.  He will continue to work closely with Houston, global management and clients to ensure a smooth transition and Grey's ongoing success in the years ahead. 

Heekin became Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Grey Group in January 2007, after leading Grey, the company's global advertising arm, since the fall of 2005. He succeeded the legendary advertising titan, Edward H. Meyer, whose career included more than three decades as CEO.

Under Heekin's leadership, Grey has energized its management ranks with a sweeping infusion of world-class talent; introduced a new global strategic model for developing outstanding creative ideas across platforms; enhanced its total communications offering with acquisitions in every region; enjoyed the most successful decade in its history adding over $2 billion in new business billings from blue-chip clients and has become a global creative powerhouse.

"As we celebrate Grey's centennial and a decade of record new business growth and creative performance, the time is right for the elevation of a new generation," Heekin said.  "Michael Houston is one of our most dynamic and talented leaders.  This well-deserved promotion will enable us to set the agenda for Grey's future growth and competitiveness across our global network."

Houston joined Grey New York, the global network's flagship headquarters office, in 2007 as Executive Vice President, Director of Marketing, to lead Grey's business development and brand marketing efforts.  He was promoted to Global Chief Marketing Officer of Grey worldwide in 2010 in recognition of Grey's unprecedented growth.  Appointed to the new position of Managing Director of Grey New York in 2011, Houston took on the role of Chief Operating Officer of the 1,000-person strong office in 2012.  He was named to the prestigious Crain's New York Business "40 Under 40" list in 2012.

One year later, Houston was promoted to CEO of Grey North America overseeing the New York, San Francisco and Canadian offices as well as Grey Activation and PR and Wing, the multicultural marketing communications agency.  Under his leadership, Grey has won such blue-chip clients as Gillette, Volvo, Nestlé, Hasbro, Papa John's, Kellogg's and Marriott.  He took on an expanded worldwide leadership role in 2016 when he became Global President of Grey.

"As Global President, I've travelled the world and been inspired by the depth and breadth of talent and creativity across the Grey network," Houston said.  "I'm humbled to work among such brilliant creative minds and honored to become CEO of this great agency brand at the height of its momentum, with vast potential ahead."

Grey's Record Performance

2017 is shaping up to be Grey's tenth year in a row of record new business and creative performance worldwide.  This year alone Grey has won the global Revlon account and the U.S. accounts of Walgreens and Applebee's.  The agency's soaring creative reputation includes the win of over 270 Cannes Lions in the past three years.  In recent years, Grey has been named ADWEEK's "Global Agency of the Year" twice; ADVERTISING AGE's "Agency of the Year" and CAMPAIGN's "Global Network of the Year."

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