Tragedy struck the Madison Avenue advertising community Wednesday, when an elevator malfunctioned at the headquarters of WPP’s Y&R, killing one of its employees.
The employee was identified by The New York Times as Suzanne Hart, director of new business, content and experience, a post she had held for more than four years. The newspaper did not specifically say how they learned Hart's identity, but reporters on the story cited city police and fire officials when describing details of the accident.
Wednesday afternoon, Y&R issued a comment attributed to Peter Stringham, chairman and CEO of Young & Rubicam Group, which stated, in part: "This is a tragic day here. We are deeply, deeply saddened to confirm that one of our employees has died. Our focus at this moment is the well-being of our employee's family and our larger Y&R family."
The incident took place at around 10:30 a.m. Wednesday morning at 285 Madison, home to Y&R (formerly Young & Rubicam) for 85 years. According to reports, Hart was entering an elevator on the ground floor when it suddenly shot up before she was able to get completely inside the car. She was pronounced dead at the scene. Two other passengers in the elevator were taken to a local hospital as a precaution, per reports.
The accident occurred less than two weeks after Y&R confirmed that it was moving out of the 285 Madison location to more modern facilities uptown at Columbus Circle.
When it unveiled its plans to move, Y&R CEO David Sable told the NYT that the relocation was “what we need to do,” because the old headquarters building “is not a suitable building for us and probably hasn't been for a number of years.” He noted: “The building was built as a warren of small offices,” and "over the years, it's always been a problem for us."
According to local reports, the elevators at 285 Madison had been cited for city building code violations in the past, although it was not clear whether the particular elevator involved had been cited.
According to Hart’s LinkedIn profile, prior to joining Y&R, she worked at Hanft Raboy & Partners as an account director, and before that was marketing director at Euro RSCG Worldwide.
Other WPP agencies at 285 Madison include Wunderman, Bravo, Kang & Lee and VML. They will move with Y&R to the new Columbus Circle facilities. The relocation is expected to take place in 2013.