What is WPP up to with Gramercy Park? Not that one, its new ‘post-conceptualisation’ ads studio?

WPP has a pricey apartment in a Gramercy Park, New York development, which has provided a few laughs for my colleague George Parker of Adscam fame over the years.

Evidently George isn’t the only one with a sense of humour as it’s also the name (Gramercy Park Studios actually) of its new London-based ‘post-conceptualisation and post-production’ business. But, as far as I can see, there’s no website up yet (just a holding page) even though the business seems to have started last December.

We only have this description on creative director Ben Raven’s LinkedIn page:

GPS is the next generation of creative studio hubs. Consolidating relationships between agencies, new and exciting clients delivering collective excellence in a continually and ever evolving advertising exposé.

GPS is an integrated post-conceptualization and post-production company that encompasses post-production/ design/ Sound/ Image Generation/ Pre-visualization; in fact it is, post-production for everything.

Which doesn’t necessarily leave us any the wiser. WPP has had a post-production business called The Farm, based in London’s Soho Square, for years. But GPS (quite a good abbreviation) is something more.

It’s actually a part of WPP’s Hogarth Worldwide, which started as pre-press production business (colour separations and all that stuff). Now Hogarth competes with the likes of Williams Lea-owned TAG, which combines pre-press and studio services with an increasing amount of video work, through its Smoke & Mirrors offshoot. Interpublic has recently set up a similar business called . TAG, though, is probably the real enemy as far as WPP is concerned.

But in March WPP merged Hogarth with Deliver, which does in digital more or less what Hogarth does in print; further muddying the waters from the point of view of someone peering into them to try to see what all this means.

Clearly then Gramercy Park Studios is something different; something which Ben Raven seems to be skirting around somewhat in his LinkedIn page description.

It sounds to me like an in-house integrated commercials production and post-production company; one which can make commercials (and online films) as well as edit and package them.

WPP tried this in Australia with an outfit called Plush Films, owned by its agencies, which seemed to founder and, in 2011, was reportedly being revamped as Bento. Plush, though, still seems to be with us (or them, down under).

Plush allegedly struggled because of the difficulty of attracting the best director talent to an in-agency company and the reluctance of the agencies involved to use it in preference to other directors and production companies. The same problem has bugged Hogarth over the years and would still, presumably, be an issue with the spanking new GPS.

Such issues though cut little ice with WPP boss Sir Martin Sorrell (left). WPP is a vertically integrated company, despite occasional protestations to the contrary. Sorrell wants to keep as much business as he can in-house.

The massive company must spend hundreds of millions a year outsourcing commercials. So why not try to keep that in-house too?

And that’s what Gramercy Park Studios seems to be all about.

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