Martin Smith, Bartle Bogle Hegarty’s former deputy chair, hired as chief executive by Grey Worldwide London last year to introduce a more freewheeling creative spirit, has suddenly found himself on ‘gardening leave’ following his hospitalisation for surgery.

Grey, which was eager to broaden both its clientele and creative ethos beyond the conservative approach demanded by many of its main clients - among them GlaxoSmithKline, Mars and P&G - originally hoped Smith would inculcate something of BBH's zeitgeist among his new peers

But according to Grey insiders, Smith failed to win the support of management and other senior staff, notably that of chief creative officer Steve Mellors. The cultural differences, said an agency source, were unbridgeable, a fact finally accepted by the shop’s European management.

Matters came to a head last Friday when Smith cleared his desk, for “personal reasons”, says the agency, immediately after a meeting with John Shannon, president of Grey International and Carolyn Carter, who presides over Grey Worldwide Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

"It was a disappointing outcome for both parties," said Mellors, who now adds the London shop’s chair to his creative duties. Smith told Campaign: “I intend to be back in the flow of things soon,” but omitted to say in which stream.

News source: CampaignLive (UK)