Manchester campus

A space designed for creativity and collaboration

WPP's campus strategy is driven by people and creativity. Paul Cooper from WPP's EssenceMediacom believes this is particularly true for the Manchester, UK, Campus

“Campuses are better spaces for our people,” says Cooper. “Even though we commissioned the Manchester Campus six years ago, and we designed the interior during Covid, the whole building was designed around how different parts of the business are creative and collaborate – that has not changed.” 

For example, there’s a floor for strategists and planners with plenty of breakout space. There's a digital activation floor where there are banks of desks to enable teams of seven or eight to sit together. And floors are connected by social areas and kitchens. There are even two event spaces – one to host 250 people and another to host 100. 

This is a far cry from the situation previously. EssenceMediacom alone had two offices in Manchester. Thenine WPP agencies are now in one building. They include programmers, TV planners, data scientists, and creatives. They work together in a creative and collaborative environment, promoting cross-discipline thinking and cross-agency collaboration.

A honeypot for talent  

The new campus is also highly attractive to new talent. Many of the teams now located in the new campus comprise recent graduates, or are of a similar age,and this isthese are the cohortthat tendswho tend to walk to the office or take a short trip on public transport and live in Manchester City Centre. The rest tend to be spread further out into Northwest England and have established their lives outside the city. 

It is the culture being created in the new campus that is the game-changer, and it is this culture that is making people want to come together. The campus enables a lifestyle that fits with its occupants’ everyday lives, played out among like-minded people – albeit across disciplines and agencies – who genuinely want to be there. 

“I'm a big supporter of giving people autonomy to create their own cultures,” says Cooper. “With autonomy comes a sense of ownership, a sense of pride. The WPP Manchester Campus is not an extension of anywhere else in the UK; it has its own culture and its own people creating that culture.” 

Even different floors have different cultures. “We encourage people to fit the space to suit the teams so that they want to come into the office,” he says. “You can see where the creative teams sit – they have added lots of colour, whereas the digital activation floor comes across as more orderly.” 

And there are a lot of people to accommodate. Ten years ago the Northwest region comprised 60 people; today that number has risen to 450. “The business had been created by small groups of individuals so it made sense to enable them to come together naturally and create their own working environment.” 

Events have spiralled  

Anyone who has ever run an event knows that securing an appropriate location comes first. For the WPP team in Manchester, that is now a no-brainer. There are yoga classes on the roof terrace, gaming sessions, cinema nights and all sorts of social activities. 

Working in the creative industries is not merely transactional. There has to be more to it than that and this space enables those interactions. 

Clients can clearly be accommodated across the floors without capacity concerns. And partners and others with whom there are close working relationships also participate in the space. It is not just down to WPP and its people to populate and facilitate the output of those new spaces; there are lots of others who are helping to define the culture of the new space too.

“We've only just started to figure out the potential of the building. There is so much more we can do with it,” says Cooper. 

“And it's not just that the space looks impressive, is enormous and really slick; it’s also professional and yet not corporate in the traditional sense of the word. Now, our clients – when they come here – can see they are working with the biggest marketing communications business in the world.” 

Paul Cooper


published on

08 September 2023



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