Tony Granger has been at the helm of agencies such as Bozell New York and Saatchi in London and New York. For the last five years the South African has been the global CCO of Y&R. Here he tells Danny Edwards about the lessons he’s learnt and the methods he’s employed to put an ‘iconic brand’ back on its feet.

How long have you been working in the US and what were you doing before that?

I came to the States in 2000, from TBWAHunt Lascaris in South Africa, to work at Bozell New York. When I think back on it, Hunt Lascaris was a brilliant training ground and John Hunt was a great mentor. We learned how to do everything as creatives, a real hands-on education. And they did great work, still do.

What attracted me to Bozell, [was] quite the opposite; it had lost its way creatively, but its appetite for great work had been revived. I remember being in [former Bozell president and CEO] Tom Bernardin’s office for the interview and his display unit had nothing in it but a single Cannes Grand Prix. So, going to a place that really hungered to do great work seemed like a truly worthwhile way for me to spend my time.

What attracted you to the global role at Y&R in the first instance?

The possibility of doing something that hadn’t been done there before attracted me. Y&R is one of the truly iconic brands in the business — the first agency started by a creative person [Raymond Rubicam, in 1923, alongside John Orr Young], in fact. A smart agency with great people, but it wasn’t the first agency you’d think of for great creative work. In truth, it hadn’t had a global creative director in years. And while there were great creatives there, without leadership at the top, they weren’t being supported and inspired. They didn’t share or learn from each other. So, creating a real global creative community was another challenge that excited me. I like challenges.  I like to make a difference. There’s a pattern — I like to be nervous as hell, it’s a good thing.

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