Mullen Moves HQ to Boston

BOSTON New England agency fixture Mullen on June 1 officially relocates its headquarters to Boston’s financial district from its manor house offices in Wenham, Mass.

The 40-year-old agency employs about 300 staffers in Boston who will now occupy 100,000 square feet — the top four floors of an 11-story structure — at 40 Broad St., which has been renamed The Mullen Building (pictured).

That space, near Faneuil Hall and the Rose Kennedy Greenway in an area targeted for re-invigoration, suits Mullen in terms of size and location moving forward as the firm strives to build “an agency where creative content, media expertise and technology all seamlessly work together,” said chief executive Joe Grimaldi in late 2007 when the Interpublic Group agency announced the move.

Boston Mayor Tom Menino is expected to be on hand Monday for a ribbon-cutting ceremony welcoming the agency to town. In a statement, Menino said: “The addition of 300 professionals to Boston’s creative economy is a win for the city.”

The Wenham mansion, located on 50 wooded acres 26 miles Northeast of Boston, served as the agency’s home for 20 years. That facility (which is now for sale) and Mullen’s previous base of operations in nearby Beverly, Mass., played huge roles in establishing the shop’s mystique as a creatively driven, iconoclastic organization operating somewhat outside the mainstream.

The challenge for Mullen will now be to retain its oft-quirky corporate culture in a radically different operating environment and in the midst of a brutal media-business downturn.

Of late, like most of its agency peers, Mullen has struggled with the economy, enduring two recent rounds of layoffs resulting in the exit of some 70 staffers. Estimated 2008 revenue rose 3 percent to $155 million. Key clients include Orbitz, SunTrust and General Motors. The shop’s other major office is in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Edward Boches, Mullen’s CCO, has in the past year garnered a considerable following in social-media circles via Twitter. Perhaps fittingly, the agency’s move has been chronicled in detail using various new-media techniques.

Mullen’s past locales played greatly into the agency’s history. In 1987, a suspicious fire destroyed Mullen’s Beverly offices and its subsequent HQ in Wenham was damaged eight months later by another blaze. State investigators concluded that both fires likely resulted from arson, but no charges were ever filed. Agency founder Jim Mullen later said his private investigators determined the fires had been accidental in origin. No staffers were injured in either blaze.

The shop was acquired by IPG in 1999 and Jim Mullen ceded control to Grimaldi about a year later.