One of Britain’s top advertising agencies is to rebrand itself in the names of its original Jewish founders, as part of a campaign to encourage diversity in the advertising industry.
Grey London, whose headquarters are in Hatton Garden, the heart of the jewellery trade, has reached back a century to the teenage founders of the company, New Yorkers Lawrence Valenstein and Arthur Fatt.
In 1917, the pair entered advertising at a time of prevalent anti-Semitism. Instead of using their own names, they decided to call their agency “Grey” because of the wallpaper in their offices.
But now the names Valenstein & Fatt will appear for 100 days on the front door of the London agency, as well as on all its corporate branding.
Chief executive Leo Rayman, who is the son of a Catholic mother and Jewish father, told Jewish News the project was being launched against a background of “a rising amount of intolerance globally”.
It was being rolled out in the week Britain triggered Article 50 and the process of disconnecting from the European Union.
Rayman said: “The advertising industry talks a lot about diversity but doesn’t really do much”.
Valenstein & Fatt will spearhead a campaign to attract many more ethnically diverse staff, offering bursaries to pay a year’s rent for young people who live outside Greater London and have not benefited from private education. There will also be a mentoring programme.
Rayman, who became chief executive last summer after a number of senior colleagues left, said that while “what we do is drawing attention and creating noise, we would have done this campaign anyway. It [the departures] forced us to have a rethink about where we were going”.
He emphasised: “We want to have people from the most diverse backgrounds that we can.”
The intention is to identify as Valenstein & Fatt for 100 days. But the industry, Rayman joked, “might get used to it”.