Patrick Coffee | July 16, 2019

Adweek: Q&A: Retiring Grey Chairman Jim Heekin Reflects on 45 Years in Advertising

Agency turnaround artist talks Martin Sorrell and James Patterson

Has anyone told you lately that the ad industry is dying? Jim Heekin has heard that one so many times that it’s almost funny.

This week, the executive chairman of Grey, who led that WPP network for almost 14 years before Michael Houston assumed the CEO role in 2017, announced his retirement after four and a half decades spent in a business he once described as “the last place I wanted to be.”Adweek spoke to him about the ups, the downs, myth versus reality and working with two very different celebrities: Martin Sorrell and James Patterson.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Adweek: What have you been doing since moving to the executive chairman role?
Jim Heekin: [Laughs] We’ve had a fairly lengthy transition; it’s been about a year and a half. One of the reasons for that is that when I looked around and said, ‘okay, it’s time, and Michael is the guy,’ I thought about my years in the business and realized that I had very rarely seen what I would describe as a good transition. I really was obsessed with doing it right, and a big part of the last year and a half has been seeding it: letting Michael make all the calls and backing off considerably, but being there every day for advice, counsel, questions and the financial piece of everything.

To read the full article, find it on Adweek here