Droga5 heads for Wall Street – and old Soho

Turn your back for a moment and what happens? The agency merger of the decade (or perhaps ever) happens while you’re enjoying the primi and secondi at the charming Ristorante Palmieri in Puglia’s Monopoli.

My thanks to Stuart Smith and our other contributors for a brilliant analysis of the doings of Messrs Levy and Wren.

But life goes on, of course, and there are still some happening agencies out there who aren’t owned by PubliCom (is the big ‘C’ official? – maybe we should stick with George Parker’s PubiCom) or the challenger brand in the marcoms market (never thought I’d write that) WPP.

One such is Droga5 and Aussie Dave and his rapidly-expanding crew, freshly emboldened by their recent deal with Hollywood talent agency TME, have been consulting real estate brochures and decided to move in New York from NoHo to Wall Street (which you wouldn’t expect) and to site their new London office in the traditional agency stamping ground of London’s Soho area, Denman Street to be precise.

In New York Droga has signed a 15-year lease at 120 Wall Street to occupy five floors totaling 92,000 square feet, sufficient to house its 300 or so people there (and a few more besides no doubt). Not just that but the creativos’ assault on that bastion of capitalism (long-time base of the so-called financial ‘masters of the universe’) has been puffed to the skies by New York mayor Michael Bloomberg and governor Andrew Cuomo.

Bloomberg says: “Our economy has recovered well from the recession and our city has made it through events like Hurricane Sandy thanks to creative and innovative New Yorkers, like those who work at Droga5.” Not sure that Droga, Andrew Essex, Ted Royer and co had that much to do with worsting Hurricane Sandy but if such compliments are offered, I guess you take them.

But it shows the agency’s status and the fact that New York is rather jealous of its reputation as a creative hub.

So will London mayor Boris Johnson be legging it down to Denman Street to congratulate Droga’s new London management of Kevin Dundas, Nik Studzinski and Olivia Legere on its move to a famous (but rather grubby) backwater tucked in behind Piccadilly Circus? Piccadilly Circus is London’s version of Time Square and is named, by the way, after the tailors who once made piccadills there, which were separate collars.

Anyway, it’s recently become home to a branch of Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s Italian chain, is still home, I think, to the famous Piccadilly Cafe (a proper British cafe) although that may have fallen victim to the property developers – so it’s moving up in the world (for better or worse).

Maybe Droga5 can do for Denman Street and Soho what BBH did for Kingly Street further north back in the 1980s and help to re-establish the area as the hub of the London creative scene. That’s moved east to Shoreditch and north to Kings Cross recently, which isn’t the same thing at all.

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