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.
• 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
• 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
• 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.
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
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