Grey Group promotes Michael Houston to worldwide CEO while James R. Heekin remains executive chair

By Kyle O'Brien | Creative Works Editor

August 1, 2017 | 4 min read

Grey Group is officially 100 years old as of today (August 1) and to mark that point, the global WPP agency has announced that it is promoting Michael Houston to worldwide chief executive officer.

Grey also stated that James R. Heekin, who has led the company as chairman and chief executive since 2007, will remain as executive chairman. Heekin will work closely with Houston, global management and clients to ensure a smooth transition.

Houston is a 10-year veteran of Grey and has served as global president since 2016. He becomes only the fifth person to hold the CEO title since the agency’s founding in 1917. He joined Grey New York, the global network's flagship headquarters office, as executive vice president, director of marketing, to lead Grey's business development and brand marketing efforts. He was promoted to global chief marketing officer of Grey worldwide in 2010. Appointed to the new position of managing director of Grey New York in 2011, Houston took on the role of chief operating officer in 2012. He was named to Crain's New York Business "40 Under 40" list in 2012.

The latest marketing news and insights straight to your inbox.

Get the best of The Drum by choosing from a series of great email briefings, whether that’s daily news, weekly recaps or deep dives into media or creativity.

Sign up
Michael Houston

Michael Houston named global CEO of Grey

Under his leadership, Grey has won such blue-chip clients as Gillette, Volvo, Nestlé, Hasbro, Papa John's, Kellogg's and Marriott. He took on an expanded worldwide leadership role in 2016 when he became global president of Grey.

“As global president, I've travelled the world and been inspired by the depth and breadth of talent and creativity across the Grey network,” Houston said. "I'm humbled to work among such brilliant creative minds and honored to become CEO of this great agency brand at the height of its momentum, with vast potential ahead.”

Heekin became chairman and chief executive officer of Grey Group in January 2007, after leading Grey, the company's global advertising arm, since the fall of 2005. He succeeded Edward H. Meyer, whose career included more than three decades as CEO.

James Heekin

Under Heekin's leadership, Grey has brought in new talent; introduced a new global strategic model for developing creative ideas across platforms; and enhanced its total communications offering with acquisitions in every region.

“As we celebrate Grey's centennial and a decade of record new business growth and creative performance, the time is right for the elevation of a new generation,” Heekin said. "Michael Houston is one of our most dynamic and talented leaders. This well-deserved promotion will enable us to set the agenda for Grey's future growth and competitiveness across our global network."


More from Career

View all


Industry insights

View all
Add your own content +