Michael Gray will change the name of his agency, Gray and Gray Advertising Inc., as soon as he thinks of a new name.
Not that he wants to-he has little choice. Gray and Gray, a small Albuquerque, NM shop, was sued last month by Grey Advertising for allegedly violating Grey trademarks (DIRECT, May 15). The similarity in names will cause market confusion, according to the larger agency.
“If I had the resources, I wouldn’t give up the name this easily,” says Gray, a Blackfoot Indian who specializes in marketing to Native Americans. “If I don’t change the name, we could end up bankrupt and going out of business.”
At least he has a consolation prize: An assignment to work with Young & Rubicam on the Census 2000 account (which Y&R won in competition with Grey).
His partnership with Y&R calls for him to target Native Americans to convince them to complete the census forms. The full campaign will involve print, radio and television. Native Americans in urban areas like Denver or New York will be targeted as much as those on reservations. Gray is currently working on a test of the campaign.
Gray and Gray provides DM and other forms of promotion to such clients as the American Indian College Fund, American Indians for Opportunity, Indian Health Service and Native America Calling. Gray feels the government is ahead of corporate America in recognizing the potential of this market-it targets Native Americans with ads for everything from the Secret Service to the selective service. There are only about 2.5 million Native Americans in the United States, but they have strong purchasing power. Gray cites the tribes that own casinos as a prime example.
Gray’s own career began in 1989 as director of marketing for the Institute of American Indian Arts in Sante Fe, NM. In 1992, he opened a design shop that was full-service by 1995. He is the sole owner; he added the extra Gray to avoid confusion with Grey.