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Will three agencies into one office work for Omnicom?

As we reported earlier this week, Omnicom is indeed planning to relocate its big three UK agencies – AMV/BBDO, Adam&Eve/DDB and TBWA in a huge new 370,000 square feet block at 2/3 Bankside in London’s Southwark area.
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Which should make for some interesting discussions about who gets the best offices with the nicest view of the river, etc.

Until now AMV/BBDO has been the undisputed top dog in the Omnicom kennels. It’s far and away the UK’s biggest agency and has been for years, plus it shares its Marylebone Road offices with Omnicom’s European management. So it should get first pick.

But Adam&Eve/DDB is on a fearsome roll, being voted Agency of the Year at Cannes after winning four Grand Prix (AMV/BBDO will be disappointed with its Cannes haul). Since the merger with Adam&Eve, DDB in London, which had a terrible new business record, has also grown substantially.

And then there’s TBWA, which is also showing belated signs of life under new boss Peter Souter (back in the day, creative director of AMV when he was the man chosen to step into the elegant brogues of legendary creative director and founder David Abbott).

So it’s going to be a right old business, one which will test even the diplomatic resources of amiable Omnicom vice-chairman Peter Mead (another AMV founder).

And what happens if a client on the move decides to put more than one Omnicom agency on the shortlist? Not far to travel for the presentations anyway. Or, making a visit to the agency, finds himself importuned in the lift?

It has happened. An industry veteran (as they say) told me that even further back in the day J. Walter Thompson (as was and will be again) shared an office block with rival agency Masius Wynne-Williams. One day Jack Wynne-Williams espied a client looking for JWT, then the biggest UK agency, to find out more about this advertising lark (this really was a long time ago).

Jack invited the client, who turned out to be Keith Showering whose company made Babycham ‘champagne perry’, in for a cup of coffee. And Showerings became Masius’ biggest account.

In some parts of the world it’s common for agencies under the same holding company to share offices – although not in the UK. A visitor to the WPP office in Shanghai was intrigued to see all the WPP media agencies (Maxus, MEC, MediaCom and Mindshare) listed on the board in reception. “Where are the Chinese walls?” he inquired politely.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.
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