Grey’s Culture of Creativity

Who knew it was possible to turn a small retail shop into one of the world’s most respected advertising agencies? Larry Valenstein and Arthur Fatt found this was possible when they turned their one-room retail store in the garment district of New York City into what is now known as Grey Advertising Agency, one of the most popular creative advertising agencies in the world. Since being founded in 1917, Grey has established a 96-country network as well as a second headquarter location in San Francisco. Grey is often recognized for the strength of their creative ideas. The agency was recently named Global Agency of the Year in 2013.

So, what is the key to keeping the creative team at Grey inspired? Culture. An official statement from the agency reads, “From where we are and how we work to who we admire and what inspires us, everything at Grey reflects a culture of creativity.” The agency supports a creative culture to encourage creativity among those who work at Grey.

One of the most unique events that Grey holds in their offices is the quarterly distribution of a Heroic Failures award. The award is given to someone who made a miraculous attempt at achieving a creative goal and has failed. Grey promotes the idea that it is better to attempt at doing something incredible and fail rather than not try anything at all. The creative culture embraces failure in order to emphasize the importance of getting back up and trying again and again. Persistence is a key to success.

In addition to the Heroic Failures award, Grey has several other ways in which they express the importance of the creative friendly culture in their agency. For example, on Thursday mornings from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. there will be no meetings held during that time. Those three hours are encouraged to be spent doing something new, challenging and creative. Any and all ideas can be posted on a giant corkboard in the office known as “the corkwall” in order to share the creativity with team members.

Other locations at Grey where people may go to conjure up some inspiration include the rooftop terrace, the health and wellness center and even a bed. There is a bed located inside of a glass room in the middle of Grey’s busiest work space. Some people do their best brainstorming while comfortably resting!

Grey works to maintain a creative culture so that people feel inspired to think outside of the box and share their creative ideas. Do you think working in this type of environment would spark your creativity?

– Hannah Turner

5 thoughts on “Grey’s Culture of Creativity

  1. Although I am sure many individuals are at first skeptical when considering the type of working environment provided by Greys Advertising, in actuality I am really quite fascinated by their innovative and alternative work ethic. I find myself to often have the attitude that to be productive one must be surrounded by a strict and structured environment, however in the long run I think I would definitely benefit from Grey Advertising’s alternative business strategies. Clearly as a one of the most popular creative advertising agencies in the world and the Global Agency of the Year in 2013, Grey Advertising is going about their business in the right way. Incorporating the Thursday morning creativity challenge, is an extremely insightful strategy. During this time of exploration people can explore beyond their office walls. For me this could be ideal for awakening my creative juices because I often do my best thinking outside of the classroom. I believe the freedom to brainstorm beyond the office and meeting environment would allow my ideas to be less forced and more natural. Additionally I am a fan of the Heroic Failures Award because I think it promotes open communication and a more comfortable work environment. In any situation individuals may be afraid to speak up or share their ideas because they are concerned they may fail. However by incorporating this Heroic Failures Award, Grey Advertising is making a statement that failure is not only accepted but encouraged. Creativity can truly grow in an environment like Grey’s, where people aren’t afraid to suggest or instigate what may end up failing but should be attempted anyways. This especially would be beneficial for me. I have an extreme fear of failure and can definitely admit that it sometimes keeps me from fully experiencing every part of life that I should be exposing myself to. If I were in an environment like Grey’s where failure was openly accepted, perhaps I would grow in ways I’m not even aware of.

  2. I feel if I had the opportunity to be an employee of a company that had the same values as Grey Advertising, I would totally agree. I agree with the notion that failure is part of life and to accept failure as a way to become stronger. I’ve attempted many things and failed. In addition, when regarding the work environment, I think it depends on the type of person one is and how they get the “creative juices” flowing. For me, it depends on the type of work I am doing that helps me decide where I’d like to complete it. By having the opportunity for their employees to decide where they do the best work, this eases the stress and helps them produce a more acceptable product. Overall, I agree with the way Grey Advertising is running their business.

  3. I believe working in this kind of environment would most definitely spark my creativity. The way in which Grey has chosen to run their business is very unique and comforting. They do not reject creative ideas, but encourage for more when one does not work out. The way in which they give time for their workers to think of something creative is very different. I think that having no other obligations during that time, along with no stress, would spark me to have my most creative ideas. The ways in which Grey chooses to run their business is one in which other businesses should look at and amplify.

  4. I love the fact that Grey Advertising does the Heroic Failures Award. I often contemplate on whether I should try something new or not. If I think that I will not succeed, I am usually very skeptical in trying it. However, this Heroic Failures Award would definitely encourage me to try something new, because I would know that I would not be looked down upon if I was not successful with it.
    Along with that, I feel as if this creative working environment that Grey Advertising provides is something new and different. Not everyone wants to sit in offices or cubicles and work all day long. With Grey’s environment, I feel as though I would be able to be more creative with what I was doing. People are often discouraged with working or trying something new if they are in the same environment from day-to-day. Grey’s Advertising changes things up, which could encourage people to change the way they think, and be more creative in new and different ways.

  5. It seems as though companies that continue to do new and innovative things for the employees thrive because of the care evidenced in the actions. I think the Heroic Failures award is smart and worthy of imitation in other organizations. This would be an awesome company to work for.

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