Shops move into crisis <BR>mode after US tragedy

LONDON - Agency executives in the UK were this week desperately trying to check on the safety of colleagues in New York after the city suffered the most devastating terrorist attack in history.

Shops move into crisis mode after US tragedy

LONDON - Agency executives in the UK were this week desperately trying to check on the safety of colleagues in New York after the city suffered the most devastating terrorist attack in history.

With phone lines to Manhattan jammed, senior managers have been e-mailing for news from New York staffers left largely unscathed but terrified by the suicide raids on the World Trade Centre.

Agencies' offices in and around Madison Avenue were turned into makeshift dormitories and feeding centres for staff either unable to travel home because of the chaos or too frightened to try.

At Saatchi & Saatchi, whose Hudson Street office is only 500 yards from the Centre, a global Procter & Gamble meeting was interrupted by the first plane crashing into one of the twin towers.

Executives, who included the chief executive, Kevin Roberts, and Tamara Ingram, the executive chairman of the London office, watched in horror as the second aircraft completed its deadly mission.

Maurice Levy, the worldwide chairman of the Publicis group, ordered a 24-hour shutdown of the group's Saatchis, Zenith and Optimedia operations in New York.

Speaking to Publicis managers, Levy said the attacks were "beyond the imagination of anyone who believes in decent moral values".

Michael Bungey, the Cordiant chief executive, said: "The other day I was on the 90th floor of the World Trade Centre, meeting investors. I fear they are now all dead."

At Fallon, just two blocks away in the Woolworth building, staff fled their offices. The Euro RSCG Worldwide office was evacuated immediately after the attacks; the Bates group, which has 1,100 staff in the city, and McCann-Erickson closed but offered employees the option of staying overnight; Omnicom's headquarters remained open for business, as did J. Walter Thompson. FCB's office was due to be closed until Friday.

However, agency bosses do not believe the destruction and its effect on staff will force agencies to change handling arrangements for accounts run out of New York. "People will cover for each other and clients will be understanding," Peter Mead, Omnicom's deputy chairman, said.

In London, Ogilvy & Mather's offices at Canary Wharf were evacuated but opened the next day. Robert Fletcher, the chief executive of M&C Saatchi's New York office, who is visiting the UK, spent Thursday finding out if his 50 staff were safe.

WPP group's chief executive, Sir Martin Sorrell, sent managers a memo expressing his sorrow. He said: "One hesitates to say anything at this time, everything will depend on political events and retaliatory action. In the short term this will be damaging economically. In the long term it may help concentrate minds on what it will take to get the economy right."

Editor's comment: "None of our readers will be wondering why Campaign looks different this week. It would have been inappropriate to fill this front page with the usual collection of news stories about account wins and losses.

"Worries about a faltering advertising economy pale into insignificance when placed alongside the fact that thousands of lives have suddenly been ended by these despicable acts of terror.

"While Tuesday's tragic events are just that - events, not cycles - they will have a big effect on corporate and consumer confidence, which are both critical to the amount that is spent by clients on advertising. We can expect the impact on advertising revenue to be deep as the

US adopts a more defensive stance.

"But at this stage the only appropriate response is to extend heartfelt sympathies to all the individuals, their families and colleagues who were caught up in Tuesday's attacks in the US."

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