You’ve had a few drinks, you’re in a good mood and with your
special beer logic activated you realise it’s time to tell your boss
exactly what is wrong with his or her company.
The bosses cut pitiable figures as their chests get prodded and the
generous words of advice flow. For this reason it seems strange that so
many agency chiefs opt to have in-house bars, more so because most seem
foolish enough to join their staff for a drink or two.
’Because we have a lot of heavy drinkers here, and I don’t want them
wandering too far away from the office,’ is why Paul Hammersley, chief
executive of Lowe Lintas & Partners, believes having an in-house bar is
a good idea. He adds that by owning the bar you can control the quality
of the food and the prices.
Most people who work at Lowes agree that the bar is good for morale and
that it enables staff from different disciplines to mix - although the
creative clique is rumoured to be willing only to talk to the
Marcus Brown, the new-business director at Saatchi & Saatchi, also
believes bars are important because the advertising industry is so
’We are keen on finding any way we can help staff relax,’ he says.
Another reason, particularly in the case of TBWA GGT Simons Palmer, is
that the bar is an ideal place to hold informal meetings. All the
agencies seem to talk to their clients in their bars because it’s more
fun than a meeting room.
But some agencies shy away from having an in-house bar. Neither Leagas
Delaney nor HHCL & Partners offer staff an actual bar but both have
fridges stocked with free wine, beer and soft drinks dotted around the
Space and high rents is a key reason why many demur. BMP DDB doesn’t
have one because of lack of space which means staff end up going to
their local, nicknamed ’The Prince of Darkness’, because it is rough and
However, some people just don’t believe it’s a good idea. Robin Azis,
the chief executive of HHCL, remembers his days at WCRS: ’You’d go down
for a drink and then some arsehole from work would turn up and change
the conversation back to some new campaign or something.’
Others think that it’s unhealthy to spend so much time at work. Joining
your work mates at a nearby pub enables staff to leave the agency
premises to enjoy something other than sleep.
TBWA GGT SIMONS PALMER ****
Opening hours Debatable. The agency claimed alcohol is served from 6pm
to 10pm, but the Campaign researchers were unceremoniously shown the
door at 9pm. Coffee served all day from 7.30am
Prices Bottled beer (no pints on offer) pounds 1.70, spirits pounds 1,
mixers 50p, bottle of Champagne pounds 17. Free drinks from 6pm to 7pm
on Tuesdays and Thursdays
Selection of drinks Poor. Pretty much only TBWA clients’ brands on
offer, which means unless you want a bottled beer or shot of Absolut,
Food Salty snacks. Croissants in the morning
Added entertainment Pool table, PlayStations, darts, trendy music
Barman Felix, a Britpop trendsetter, doesn’t crack a smile very often
but that may be because he has to wear a uniform
Atmosphere The bar has the cool atmosphere you would expect from the
agency chosen to run the New Labour advertising account. Modern, plenty
of seating, the kind of place people pay to go to when they feel like a
The place was heaving because we arrived only a few hours after the
agency learned that it had won the Labour account. Free drinks were
flowing and there was a genuine party feel about the place.
The happy hour offer definitely gives the bar the edge over its rivals
in the popularity stakes. But, for all of its coolness, there was a
strong feeling of still being at work.
This must partly be because the agency’s big cheeses can’t get enough of
the place. They were out in force and not just because of the win -
apparently it’s rare to see the chief executive, Simon Clemmow, anywhere
LOWE LINTAS & PARTNERS ***
Opening hours 12.30pm to 3pm, 5.30pm to 8pm
Prices pint of Stella pounds 1.60, pint of Heineken pounds 1.50, spirits
pounds 1, mixers 50p, bottle of Champagne pounds 14
Selection of drinks Fairly extensive, caters for most tastes (unless you
Food Mixture of hot meals and sandwiches at lunch time. Salty snacks
Added entertainment CD-player with selection of CDs
Barman Derek has the ’don’t f*ck with me’ attitude you would expect in a
real pub, and has only had to ban one person in the bar’s history
Atmosphere Has the requisite dark, smoky feel, complete with Abba
soundtrack, to make you feel like you are in a real pub and not at
Lowe Lintas & Partners was the only agency brave enough to let the
thirsty Campaign investigators in on a Tuesday. No, the bar was not
full, though there were a couple of tables of IT support and finance
Evidence of its popularity at the tail end of the week is that on a good
Friday, the bar takes pounds 500 in two and a half hours. This is no
doubt partly because Lowes serves the cheapest drinks out of all the
bars we reviewed.
The character of the bar is heavily influenced by the burly Derek, who
takes his job very seriously (he proudly showed the Lowes ’cellar’,
which was, in fact, an impressive refrigerated room). This is a
no-frills establishment which is very in keeping with the no-nonsense,
not-too-trendy culture at Lowes - although the David Linleyesque stools
were a bit sad.
Worthy of note were the toilets. In a throwback to the 19th century they
were massive, uncomfortable, wooden thrones.
SAATCHI & SAATCHI ***
Opening hours 8am to 3pm, 5.30pm to 10pm (11pm Fridays)
Prices Pint of lager pounds 1.90, spirits pounds 1.40, mixers 60p,
bottle of Champagne pounds 25
Selection of drinks Extensive. You name it, they’ve got it
Food Breakfast and lunch available. Salty snacks
Added entertainment Arcade games, satellite TV, table football, pool
Barman Ivan (not pictured). A chippie manager who did not take kindly to
any questions. Lots of brawn - shouldn’t think too many staff misbehave
under his miserable gaze
Atmosphere Looks more like a healthclub than a pub, but this doesn’t
detract from its comfort. Staff can relax in the knowledge that their
agency has spent a lot of money supplying them with a good place to go
for a drink.
We tipped up just as the agency had been informed that it had not won
the Labour Party advertising account. This did put a dampener on
The bar was also not at its fullest as there were free drinks and food
on offer at the leaving party of the agency’s handyman, Roger, in one of
the function rooms.
Named after one of the agency’s most famous campaigns, The Pregnant Man
- despite its naff decoration - is a proper pub. The fact that it’s
situated in the Saatchi & Saatchi car park slightly detaches it from the
main building, enabling staff to pretend they are not still at work.
Opening hours 8am to whenever people leave
Prices bottle of beer, glass of wine, spirit plus mixer all pounds 1.80.
Bottle of Champagne pounds 18
Selection of drinks Pretty extensive
Food Breakfast for free between 8am to 9am. Hot and cold meals available
Added entertainment Karaoke (with 1,000 sample songs), arcade games,
Barman Mark, a gentle giant from South Africa. You couldn’t meet a nicer
Atmosphere Top marks. It’s relaxed, fun, informal, wild. Very difficult
Well what a night. The Campaign researchers were so caught up in the
high spirits that prevail at the imaginatively named ’Wine Bar’, that
they missed their next appointment.
The actual bar looks good, but there are some gopping decorations
elsewhere, not least some life-size statues from Robin Wight’s private
There is a genuinely friendly atmosphere and, looking at some of the bar
tabs, it becomes obvious that the staff really take advantage of the
facilities - one creative’s tab was pounds 2,000 at the end of last
The bar has the most flexible hours out of those researched - the result
of a relaxed attitude manifest in Mark the barman. Obviously popular
with the punters, he had swarms of women hanging off every limb - and a
few blokes too. Nobody poses at this bar. They’re too busy having a good
LEO BURNETT ***
Opening hours Monday to Wednesday 5.30pm to 8.30pm, Thursday and Friday
5.30pm to 9.30pm
Prices Pint of lager pounds 1.85, spirits pounds 1.35, mixers 60p,
bottle of Champagne pounds 18
Selection of drinks Adequate
Food Salty snacks only
Added entertainment Juke box (set at a very high volume) and what may be
a brothel across the road - compelling viewing of Rolls-Royces coming
Perhaps it’s because it’s in Chelsea, but Leo Burnett’s bar is smart and
sophisticated and it’s hard to imagine that staff ever get down and
dirty here, although they claim they do.
Burnetts is in a beautiful building and its bar is lovely to look at,
even if it is a bit small. This didn’t seem to matter as there were
surprisingly few people using the bar - even though it was a Friday.
The Core is a functional bar in that there is little added
entertainment, which is probably why a lot of attention seems focused on
the coming and goings of the ’brothel’ across the road.