WPP forges closer links to big tech with launch of San Francisco campus

The move will be completed in the third quarter of 2021 / WPP

WPP is to open a campus in San Francisco so it can better serve clients like Google, Facebook and Amazon.

The holding group's chief executive Mark Read said the move was also initiated to allow WPP agencies to work alongside tech platforms to help clients "deal with technology-disrupted markets".

The new office will house over 1000 people from various WPP companies in San Francisco's South of Market (SOMA) area.

Featuring flexible co-working areas designed to "encourage closer collaboration and inspire greater creativity," the campus will be minutes away from spaces already occupied by the likes of Google, Salesforce, Twitter and Adobe.

The move will be completed in the third quarter of 2021.

Read said that tech companies and tech clients were "critical" to his three-year turnaround plan for the business, which is focused on turning WPP into a "creative transformation company".

"The sector contains potential partners for WPP companies who are helping their clients deal with technology-disrupted markets, and potential clients in a growing category. The San Francisco Campus gives us a base to develop both aspects," he added.

WPP lists 13 big tech businesses among its top-100 clients. Essence is a lead creative partner for Google, while Possible works with Facebook.

Amazon, meanwhile, is serviced by a WPP-run Amazon Center of Excellence (ACE) in Seattle, which is staffed by talent from GroupM and Wunderman Thompson.

Read will be hoping the investment helps WPP in its battle to return to growth amid budget-squeezing from clients, competition from the very digital giants it wants to partner with and consultancies encroaching on its traditional turf. In April, the businesses' Q1 like-for-like net sales dropped 8.5% in North America, the group’s biggest market, while group net sales were down 2.8%.

When operational, the San Francisco campus will be WPP’s ninth in North America and the fourth to be unveiled in the last two years. By 2023, there will be 85,000 people in 40 campus locations worldwide.

This year, in addition to San Francisco, WPP announced new co-locations in Düsseldorf, Paris, Manchester (UK) and, most recently, Mumbai and Gurugram in India.

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