In spring last year, Grey Group decided to implement an agency transformation by appointing the new management duo for Germany, Francisca Maass (CCO) and Jan-Philipp Jahn (CEO). This agency transformation focuses on customer-centric solutions through strategy, creation and transparent workflow processes. The next step of the realignment has now been made, indicating a clear commitment to creativity and growth. The first new colleagues moved into the Grey Office, located at the WPP building in Hamburg, in early November last year. For the time being, the team will grow to an agile unit of 25 people by the middle of this year. This number also includes some colleagues from the Duesseldorf office who will choose Hamburg as their new home and will contribute to an efficient exchange between the locations right from the start.
At the Hamburg office, Grey Germany focuses on creative innovation and new business and takes into account the changed requirements on the customer side. The Hamburg office is broadly positioned as an independently operating unit with creation, strategy, consulting and project management as well as content and digital expertise. The creative management team for Hamburg has now also been appointed. Laura Combuechen (Head of Strategy), Christoph Stricker (ECD Art), Paul von Muehlendahl (ECD Copy) and Willy Kaussen (ECD Copy) will develop and implement creative solutions for existing and new clients under the cross-location management of creative head Francisca Maass.
To her, interlocking strategy and outstanding creation is essential: "With the new team and our integrated strategy management, we have the opportunity to avoid silo workflows from the very beginning and to support cooperation of our experts in diverse areas. I don't care about hierarchies, I want our talents to feel encouraged to contribute their ideas and suggestions at all times".
Laura Combuechen (38) has been on board as Head of Strategy at the Hamburg office since November 2019. Laura is a passionate trend and consumer expert and has perfected her love and pragmatism for brand and communication strategies during her stints at agencies like TBWA and thjnk. Francisca Maass knows Laura from their shared at thjnk where they successfully worked as a creative and strategy duo.
From Francisca Maass' point of view, it goes without saying that a creative motivational climate requires a passionate management team. By installing a three-member ECD team in Hamburg, the CCO deliberately breaks traditional agency conventions: "Each individual brings his or her own personal and professional advantages from which our new and very committed colleagues and, of course, our clients, will benefit. I am truly proud and happy that we managed to win these three renowned creatives to lead the new office."
Christoph Stricker (48) already took over leadership responsibilities for the Hamburg Grey team as ECD Art end of last year. After working at agencies like KNSK and Aimaq Rapp Stolle, the automotive expert was responsible for the national and international Volkswagen account for many years during his management position at Grabarz & Partner. Stricker was part of the core team of the powerhouse founded by Volkswagen in Berlin. His numerous awards include "Enjoy the Silence" for Volkswagen.
As a long-standing ADC member and lecturer at Miami Ad School, Christoph is also an inspiring team leader.
As Stricker’s partner, Paul von Muehlendahl (47) started as ECD Copy at the beginning of February. After agency years at Ogilvy, Grabarz & Partner and Philipp and Keuntje, Muehlendahl has built his reputation in the past eight years as a freelance Creative Director, working for almost all well-known Hamburg agencies. He contributed to multiply awarded campaigns such as "Laughing Horses". Thanks to his many years of experience as a freelancer, he is familiar with a wide range of industries. Paul is looking forward to the opportunity to create a new agency culture together with his ECD colleagues. He also worked successfully as a team with Christoph Stricker at Grabarz & Partner from 2005 to 2007.
The Hamburg creative management team will be completed when Willy Kaussen (46) will join the creative trio as ECD Copy in April. A multiple award-winning creative and long-standing Art Directors Club member, Willy is known in the industry for the unseen: he had a skier race through San Francisco for Audi, an artist play the glass organ for Škoda, and was jointly responsible for the image transformation of Opel through numerous campaigns with football trainer Juergen Klopp. Willy already been working intensively and very successfully with Francisca Maass in the past weeks. After stints at Jung von Matt, thjnk, Leagas Delaney and Scholz & Friends, Willy is thrilled about the future creative direction of Grey Germany.
In terms of management, Jahn and Maass, together with CFO Dirk Lapaz, will lead and be accountable for the Hamburg office and for the Duesseldorf location. "With the approval of Grey Europe, the decision to take on an important role in the agency location Hamburg was clear for us from the very beginning. We are particularly pleased that this step has the full support of our customers, who are looking forward to additional creative input from the interaction between Hamburg and Duesseldorf," says CEO Philipp Jahn.
In the future, three of the major existing clients will be creatively supported mainly from Hamburg. Volvo and Procter & Gamble will be further developed for the German-speaking countries in the international lead mandate of the Grey Group. Last year, Grey Germany’s national client BARMER, a big health insurance company, awarded Grey Germany the classic and digital mandate in addition to the media budget in a pitch process. Maurizio Barucca, Head of Marketing at BARMER, welcomes the decision to expand their lead agency’s location: "Grey has supported us very successfully in the past years and once again convinced us in the pitch with a mixture of creativity, technology and a future- oriented agency model. The new location in Hamburg will further strengthen creation for us, but Duesseldorf also remains important. This gives us completely new opportunities to develop successful communication solutions across all channels.”
According to Philipp Jahn, this fits perfectly with the new mindset of Grey Deutschland: "We define ourselves as an 'owner-focused' network agency. This gives us the self-determined opportunity to sharpen our own offerings and to complement them with innovative services within the WPP network according to individual customer needs.”
In Duesseldorf, 180 Grey colleagues are working in the areas of consulting, creation and design as well as comprehensive services.
Photo Credit: Guenther Schwering/Grey
Caption from left to right: Willy Kaussen, Jan-Philipp Jahn (sitting front), Christoph Stricker, Francisca Maass, Paul von Muehendahl, Laura Combuechen