BACKBITE

The plan was to write about Bartle Bogle Hegarty’s new Kingly Street offices, complete with a name check for the architect so that BBH- wannabes could go and sign up the same company, thus turning themselves into a model of the most creative agency of the decade.

The plan was to write about Bartle Bogle Hegarty’s new Kingly Street

offices, complete with a name check for the architect so that BBH-

wannabes could go and sign up the same company, thus turning themselves

into a model of the most creative agency of the decade.



But BBH wants the news to get around via a ‘whispering offensive’ so I

shall have to write on the basis of a quick tour last week.



Whisked up to the second-floor reception, you could be forgiven for

thinking you had arrived at an American shopping mall: glass all around,

metallic staircases and marble floors. Inside this goldfish bowl you

almost expect to see a Swatch concession, instead there are the account

teams, working open plan and breaking off for mini meetings into

brightly coloured ‘think pods’ - a brilliant idea.



BBH has not used the move as an excuse for indulging in the corporate

excess evident elsewhere: at Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, Andrew Robertson

can survey an entire floor of cooped-up account managers from his

football pitch of an office, while to be on the second floor at J.

Walter Thompson spells POWER. The shared office of Nigel Bogle and John

Bartle, and Martin Smith’s office - all within sight of the account

teams - look spartan by comparison.



Interestingly, while BBH toyed with virtual but opted for mostly open

plan, the creative department still works in offices - proof that the

most conservative instincts still remain at the very heart of ad

agencies.



If I wanted to pick holes, I would say that the place’s anonymous

feeling is exacerbated by the absence of work on display, which seems to

run counter to BBH’s culture of stylish creativity. Is this a sign that

it has nothing left to prove, or is it a temporary blip while the powers

debate over which clients should be allowed that delicious frisson of

recognition by seeing their ads chosen to adorn the agency’s reception?



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