Ogilvy UK plans escape from Canary Wharf

Ogilvy UK has been marooned in the financial fastness of Canary Wharf for the best part of 20 years – not one of WPP CEO Sir Martin Sorrell’s better decisions.

Now though the agency has settled on 2015 to escape from its lease and is looking at sites nearer to adland’s Soho homeland – but not that near. One of the contenders is Sea Containers House on London’s South Bank; handy for Borough Market and the Tate Modern but still a bit out of it.

Another is a site on nearby Waterloo Bridge, where the agency used to be before it was bought by WPP. Founder David Ogilvy used to get his breakfast at a caff nearby (he was the man in the Hathaway shirt).

A third is uber-trendy Shoreditch, home to agencies like Wieden+Kennedy and Mother and about a zillion digital start-ups.

Those who toil at Ogilvy probably couldn’t care less where it is (so long as it’s somewhere else); 10 Cabot Square in Canary Wharf has never worked – the workers feel out of things and clients don’t like going there, they like a bit of Soho glitz.

So why doesn’t Ogilvy bite the bullet and head to Soho? One problem is that most of the offices in Soho are quite small; BBH’s glossy offices in Kingly Street (which fronts on to Regent Street) are the biggest in the area. And Ogilvy, despite its declining UK billings, hosts more people as it’s the European HQ for the account teams on American Express, BP, Ford and IBM who comprise nearly all its business.

One issue the agency and owner WPP face is a bloody great hole carved out of its two floors in Canary Wharf, designed to make it look more like an ad agency.

Another issue for new CEO Cheryl Giovannoni, hired from Landor, to deal with.

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