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Valenstein & Fatt poaches Lee Barber from BD Network to reboot activation proposition

BD Network's Lee Barber is joining Valenstein & Fatt.

Valenstein & Fatt, the agency formerly known as Grey London, has poached BD Network’s strategy boss Lee Barber to help reposition its shopper marketing arm.

Barber, who was chief strategy and creative officer at the independent network, joins the business as planning director and will work across the shopper marketing arm that was GreyShopper as well as the wider creative business.

His remit is to help Valenstein & Fatt put a different slant on shopper marketing, one that makes the activation part of the discipline more central to marketing strategies, which is something it has tried and succeeded at in some cases for some time. Lucozade, Gillette and General Mills are among those brands at Valenstein & Fatt actively thinking about activation at the forefront of their brands, and consequently the agency believes there is further headroom to grow.

Barber will work with Rob Sellers, a former BD colleague and managing director of Valenstein & Fatt’s shopper marketing business, to come up with a clear way of selling activaition into clients. The idea being that it needs to be pushed as a way for brands to achieve a cultural ambition – similar to how the wider agency talks about advertising – instead of just a line item on a communications plan. Shopper marketing has come a long way since pyramids of cans and yet the discipline is still viewed by those outside of FMCG as being among the more mundane parts of the mix.

“I was very lucky to work with Lee earlier in my career as he is without doubt the single best strategic thinker in the activation space,” said Sellers. “He has consistently pushed the boundaries for 20 years; and with clients increasingly demanding this skill, Valenstein & Fatt is now in an incredible position to deliver it.”

Barber’s arrival is somewhat of a coup for the agency, given he is among the most respected in his area of expertise. He is credited with masterminding Coca-Cola’s ‘Win a Player’ campaign as well as working on the launch of the Nintendo Wii and 3DS, the former of which went on to become the Japanese gaming giant’s most successful product. He also spearheaded the first text to win mechanic, which has gone on to become a key staple of TV broadcasting.

He is said to have led and won countless pitches for BD Network including Peugeot, Uniqlo, Cadbury, GAP and Heinz and was the youngest ever board member of the MAA.

Matt Tanter, chief strategy officer at Valenstein & Fatt added; “Lee’s CV speaks for itself. Grey London is on a mission to produce a different shape of work and to help our clients make an impact on culture. Using every tool at our disposal. Pioneering new ways to connect with consumers through experiences and events is key to this. Lee has built iconic platforms for some of the biggest brands in the world. There is no one better to help us create more famous brand activations in the future.”

Barber’s arrival comes amid the agency’s biggest statement on diversity to date – the decision to take on the name of its Jewish founders. Earlier this week, it announced that Grey London would be known as Valenstein & Fatt, the names of its founders, for 100 days in a move designed to encapsulate

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