Grey London chief operating officer Wayne Brown has departed the agency, and the advertising industry altogether, to join Play Sports Group as managing director.
Brown (pictured above, right) was promoted to a newly created chief operating officer role at the London agency following the surprise departures of chief executive Lucy Jameson, managing director Natalie Graeme and chief creative officer Nils Leonard last year. At the time, the appointment was very much seen as pivotal in steadying the ship.
However, after less than a year, Brown has jumped for a company he described as “fast, agile and entrepreneurial with a deep passion for what they do.”
“The way they are blending culture and commerce – creating content that really matters to people, that is connected, interactive and moves the needle for brands – is a compelling proposition,” he said.
The Play Sports Group is the digital sports media company behind Global Cycling Network (GCN) and Global Mountain Bike Network (GMBN) and recently courted investment from Discovery Communications – owner of Eurosport – which took a 20% stake.
Reporting to the founder and chief executive Simon Wear he will work across the whole group – the agency and channel divisions – with a brief to build its brands, revenues and capabilities.
The business is looking to rapidly scale and in the coming two years will launch further channels in cycling and across other sports, hiring up to 150 people for newly created digital and creative roles.
Brown will also sit on the group level board and is believed to be receiving equity in the venture.
“We have big plans for the Play Sports Group, so attracting someone like Wayne with a proven track record in establishing and growing digital businesses is a hugely important step towards us achieving our vision,” said Wear.
“Wayne brings with him a unique blend of advertising, media, data and technology experience that I believe will propel our business, and our clients’ businesses.”
Brown has served at several of the industry's biggest agencies, including Bates Dorland, TBWA\London, Glue Isobar and GreyPOSSIBLE as well as a two year stint client-side as marketing manager for Brylcreem.
His exit from adl and altogether comes the same week that Possible chief executive Shane Atchison and Americas president Jason Burby also left the industry to join an as yet unnamed big data "tech unicorn".