SBJ/March 12 - 18, 2007/Forty Under 40

Wally Hayward


Wally Hayward
Agency: Relay Worldwide
Age: 39
Titles: Chairman and CEO
Education: B.S., communications, Northwestern University, 1990
Family: Wife, Jennifer; daughters, Riley, 11, and Hope, 8
Career: Began career at Lazin Sports Group, which represented the NFL Players Association; spent 13 years with BCom3, Starcom MediaVest Group and Leo Burnett; launched Relay in 2001 as the dedicated sponsorship and event marketing agency of Publicis Groupe.
Last vacation: Casa de Campo, Dominican Republic, in January
Last book read: "What Sticks: Why Most Advertising Fails and How to Guarantee Yours Succeeds,” by Rex Briggs and Greg Stuart
Last movie seen: Whatever American Airlines is showing on flights to Asia or Europe
TV shows you never miss: "CSI Miami” or "Las Vegas”
What’s on your iPod: A lot of songs I never have time to listen to
Pet peeve: Clients who want "the big idea” and then ask you to execute it in 24 hours
Greatest achievement: Having a perfect blend of personal and business lives and achieving extreme happiness in both
Greatest disappointment: Losing the Army account
Best sporting event you’ve ever attended: Two — the 1996 Rose Bowl (Northwestern vs. USC) and the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens
Fantasy job: Head of an Olympic organizing committee that brings the Olympics to Chicago
Executive you most admire: Ted Forstmann. He’s reinventing a big, established brand.
Business advice: Create a dream and purpose for your business and yourself so you have a successful road map for both.

It seems strange coming from the mouth of an agency head, but Relay Worldwide Chairman and CEO Wally Hayward vows that the best thing that happened to his firm last year was losing the Army account.

As a government account, it was up for grabs as part of a government RFP and eventually went to Interpublic Group shops, with McCann-Erickson handling advertising and Momentum getting event marketing and sponsorship work.

While Relay had poured its soul into activating and executing Army's sponsorships with NASCAR, the NHRA and the Professional Bull Riders, losing the account in late 2005 made Hayward realize that tactics would never be as important to the agency's future as strategy, even though Relay was founded in 2001 as an agency that linked activation with consulting.

"We were too caught up in tactics when what our clients really needed was strategic expertise across all live events," Hayward said.

Voila — there was a renaming of Relay Sponsorship & Event Marketing to Relay Worldwide. With that came less emphasis on tactics and more on strategy, especially on trend spotting, technology implementation, globalization and return on investment.

It's still early on in the transformation, but Hayward says the new approach has already helped Relay win business with Coke in China and Sharp Electronics in the U.S.

"It made us look at ourselves and restructure from the top down," he said. "Now I see the beginnings of the agency of the future."

The future appears to be now for that agency, with Hayward and Relay finishing in the Forty Under 40 money for the second consecutive year.

— Terry Lefton

Back to 2007 Forty Under 40 list.

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