Appointments follow holding company’s massive win of the Coca-Cola account, which Campopiano will lead at Open X

WPP’s Grey is the latest agency network to double down on creative talent with the promotion of two of its top execs. Worldwide Chief Creative Officer John Patroulis is moving up to the role of global creative chairman and president, creative business, while Javier Campopiano, who last served as global creative partner, will step up as Grey’s new worldwide chief creative officer.

The promotions arrive on the heels of major wins at Grey and its parent WPP. In November, Grey landed the Modelo account, while WPP won the majority of the hotly contested $4 billion Coca-Cola business spanning creative, media, data and marketing technology across more than 200 countries.

Campopiano joined the agency in 2019, serving as chief creative officer for Europe and creative chairman of the U.K. before his last post. He played a central role in WPP’s win of the Coke business and will continue to lead the account and its creative, overseeing a team comprising talent from Grey and all WPP agencies that make up Open X, the holding company’s bespoke unit dedicated to Coca-Cola.

Along with the Coke duties, Campopiano will be responsible for leading Grey’s creative performance across the global network. Under his watch, Grey Europe produced notable out-of-the-box campaigns such as one for Pringles that lured a zombie out of Twitch into the real world; Volvo’s “Ultimate Safety Test” that suspended a car from a crane to make a surprising point; and a pandemic push that allowed consumers to “adopt a keg” for Carlsberg. While he had served as chief creative officer at Saatchi & Saatchi New York, he oversaw groundbreaking campaigns such as Procter & Gamble’s highly decorated “It’s a Tide Ad” Super Bowl push that earned Grand Prix and Titanium at the Cannes Lions as well as a Black Pencil at D&AD.

Campopiano will remain based in Europe. In his new role, he said he has “two assignments—what we’re going to work on that day, and how we make this industry great again to attract people.” To focus solely on the work itself means ignoring one of the critical issues the industry faces today, he said.

The duties of a global chief creative officer these days go way beyond simply elevating the quality of the work for our clients and their brands or the network´s award shows performance, Campopiano said. A huge part is to constantly make this job, and our industry as a whole, attractive for the best talent out there. Agencies have been disrupted in so many different ways, that a critical part of my duties, and a personal KPI, will be to make sure that my focus is on the work as much as the culture that leads to that work.

Patroulis joined Grey as its worldwide creative chief in 2017 after a storied run at BBH New York, where he last was creative chairman. He will continue his creative leadership role, but will also partner with Grey Worldwide CEO Michael Houston on business strategy, growth plans, talent investment, new offerings and business transformation for Grey and its global clients.

The agency’s top creative leader stepping into a business-side post continues a recent trend at Grey and the industry at large, indicating the growing importance of creativity and ingenuity in the business itself. Grey London Chief Creative Officer Laura Jordan Bambach added president to her title this February. Diego Medvedocky, the creative chief of Grey Latin America, also serves as the regional president.

The value a role like this can bring is in putting a creative lens on all the decisions in the network, Patroulis said. Seeing acquisitions, mergers, new models through this lens is going to make things better for our creative people and the work. Creativity, as well as the creative orientation of an entire business, is a differentiator.

John and Javier have earned these well-deserved promotions, said Grey Worldwide CEO Michael Houston in a statement. True to our credo, they have dedicated themselves to solving our clients’ challenges with ‘Famously Effective’ ideas that strike a deep chord in popular culture to drive their success.

Their promotions, he added, are the “next logical step” in Grey’s global restructuring over the last 18 months that includes reducing the number of its studios around the world and putting a sharper focus on investing in talent, especially on the creative side. “It aligns perfectly with our strategy of being a creatively-led, borderless organization dedicated to delivering what our clients want: the best talent regardless of geography,” said Houston.

In November of last year, WPP announced it would merge Grey with AKQA to create a new “creative solutions” network AKQA Group, and that the Grey name would officially be retired. That move, however, sparked an uproar among staff and upset key client P&G. Since then, Grey has continued to operate under its longstanding brand name while collaborating often with AKQA.

On a broader scale, WPP has been investing heavily in creative talent and kicked off 2021 with the appointment of former McCann Worldgroup Creative Chairman Rob Reilly as global chief creative officer. (In September of this year, Ad Age reported that Campopiano had been approached for a position as chief creative officer of the McCann advertising network).

The past year also saw an infusion of talent at WPP’s Ogilvy, which hired former Leo Burnett and Publicis North America creative chief Liz Taylor as its global chief creative officer; McCann’s Devika Bulchandani as CEO of North America and global chairwoman of advertising; and TBWA/Chiat/Day New York Chief Creative Officer Chris Beresford-Hill as president of North America advertising.

The companies of WPP are stacked now with some of the best creative talent in the world, Reilly said. Clients are wanting to be closer to the creative and this ensures that. We’re betting on Grey and having John and Javi working together will accelerate our paths towards becoming the most creative company in the world.