New-style WPP cuts links with Sorrell era by abandoning Farm Street HQ

WPP is decisively cutting links with the Sir Martin Sorrell era by leaving its 27 Farm Street, Mayfair, London HQ and moving staff initially into Ogilvy and media agency Wavemaker’s new building on London’s Southbank, with its nice view of the River Thames.

Farm Street (below) is a smallish mews house (by Mayfair standards) and houses WPP’s admin, legal, communications and property people as well as SMS. It’s around the corner from Shepherd Market where some WPP staff claimed they’d seen Sorrell visiting a brothel, which he strenuously denies. He was also accused, in an article in the FT, of bullying his various executive assistants in Farm Street so it’s no surprise that WPP COOs Mark Read and Andrew Scott want to put as much distance between Farm Street and themselves as they can.

Ogilvy, which spent 20 gloomy years in Canary Wharf, describes its swish new offices (below) as “the heart of London’s creative mile” and the Southbank/Southwark has, indeed, taken over from more traditional adland venues like Soho and Charlotte Street. As well as Ogilvy and Wavemaker it houses most of Omnicom’s UK agencies including AMV BBDO, TBWA, Proximity and OMG. It’s also home to Rupert Murdoch’s News UK.

In other parts of the world including Amsterdam and Toronto WPP has been busily moving all its agencies and people into big new central HQs, like Omnicom’s in London. This may still happen in the UK but with 17,000 people this would be a stretch: more the creative industrial park than creative mile.

Omnicom is believed to have looked at offices in Croydon, way out of central London, before settling on its new Southwark Street HQ (with no river view alas) but senior management revolted.

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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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