Day 383

I’ve always known that like the ocean, the ad industry is defined by its never-ending movement. Yet, over the past year, I’ve come to learn just how much things can change in a year’s time. Some things come about unexpectedly and others are welcomed with open arms. There have even been times they've caused more than a handful of hiccups for the project. I chalk it up as a learning experience and think you’ll agree much of what’s happened spells good things for the industry as a whole—or at the very least that many of the agencies I’ve visited are on the fast track to greater success.

Way back in the planning process, whenever a new agency would join the project, I was always given a point of contact to speak with prior to my impending arrival—that’s 14 different people in 14 different offices. The interesting thing about it all is that of those 14 people, only seven of them were still working at the agency on my first day.

What I learned over time was that a majority of them went on to higher-paying jobs or other industries entirely. Of course, the people still at the agencies had nothing but positive things to say about these folks, so I consider it as good things happening to good people. It's also an uplifting sign about the current state of hiring within the industry too. That’s always welcomed news, if you ask me.

A number of agencies also rebranded at some point during the project—TRISECT (who dropped their '3') in Chicago, Campbell Mithun (now just Mithun) in Minneapolis and Y&R Group (formally Wunderman) in Seattle. Whether it’s through an acquisition or the result of changes within the agency, you can’t deny that every once in awhile a new coat of paint can do wonders.

It could've all been spurred by a change in management, location or focus, but they all know you have to keep up with current trends if you hope to continually find success. The same goes for people working within the industry. That’s why a lot of creatives end up going back to school, attending monthly seminars or furthering their education in some shape or form. Relevancy is a magical thing.

The final change I’ve come to notice has to do with location. Three agencies have since relocated their office since my departure (97 Degrees West, Mithun and We Are Social) and Evolution Bureau is actually moving their office from San Francisco to Oakland next month. On top of that, Recess Creative added more space, Red Tettemer opened a west coast branch (stop #14) and I wouldn’t be shocked if Pollinate and Boxing Clever relocate within the next year, because they’re bursting at the seams with growth. It’s exciting to watch these agencies succeed, especially as I now consider many of them to be friends. 

What it all comes down to is that this is not an industry for procrastinators, dilly-dallyers or lazy asses. Everything moves at such a rapid pace, if you close your eyes for too long it will pass you by. In the end, I think it’s safe to say that determination and hard work really do pay off in the ad world. I’ve seen far too many instances of it across this country for it to be a coincidence. Do your very best, keep up with current trends and never be afraid to try something new. Those are the lessons I’ve learned and that’s what keeps me moving forward in this crazy, crazy business.

-Steve-

Day 376

Much like my visit to St. Louis, I’ve come to find San Francisco is home to a very affable creative community. Part of this stems from the fact that many of the city’s shops reside in the neighborhoods of North Beach and Telegraph Hill. In these two adjoined northeast areas, you’ll find the likes of Razorfish, Heat SF, Publicis, Brave One, HUGE, FCB West, McCann and of course, Evolution Bureau. So, it’s not uncommon to see the various teams come together for a quick lunch or a few drinks after work. Personally, I’ve always been a fan of tight knit communities, so this discovery delights me to no end. Just because we’re all rivals, doesn’t mean we can’t become fast friends.

Another interesting tidbit I’ve noticed about San Francisco is the number of company campuses. Much like those I saw in Seattle from Amazon and Microsoft, several businesses here have purchased entire city blocks and transformed them into their own little branded worlds. I can’t help but feel this trend is mostly regulated to the west coast though. From what I’ve seen on my travels, most companies tend to expand up and not out. But, they don’t seem to follow that rule over here. Instead, they utilize their space to build parks, patios and accommodations for their employees. I only need look across the street to see a great example too, since the EVB office is adjacent to the Levi Jeans campus. 

All in all, it’s become rather apparent that San Francisco has a very unique ecosystem all its own. Things run a bit differently here and people are happy to go with the flow. That’s why I can’t help but wonder if EVB is nervous about their upcoming move to Oakland. With all the big players being housed here, EVB really is leading the way in many regards. They’re venturing out on their own and trying something new—a stance I fully commend them on.

I know they'll be fine though, because after two weeks of being here I can already tell it's the right thing for them to do. Not because they aren’t happy here, but because they truly enjoy being pioneers in the field. You can see it in their work, their philosophies, their overflowing ambition—and now—their commitment to change.

On a slightly different front, San Francisco is actually dealing with a rather annoying storm system at the moment (if you haven’t already heard). And it’s arrived just in time to postpone tonight’s EVB holiday party. I’m actually a bit relieved, because I don’t have any dress clothes with me. Ah, the joys of living out of a tiny suitcase. It's certainly something I won't miss come February. 

-Steve-

Day 373

Wow! I completely misjudged the size of San Francisco. Perhaps it’s the fact that I’ve been frequenting smaller cities as of late, but I just had no idea how massive SF was. If you add in the rest of the bay area—cities like San Jose and Oakland—the scope just grows and grows. I don’t foresee myself running out of things to do this month, that’s for sure.

That’s why, for the first time on our journey, I actually sat down Friday night to plan out my weekend. Usually, I just tend to wander around until I find something cool. But I’ve had so many recommendations flood in over the past few weeks; I don’t have nearly enough time to visit them all. So, sadly I’m forced to pick and choose my destinations this month.

So, I went about hitting up as many of these recommended locations as possible. On Saturday, I started out with the biggie—the Golden Gate Bridge—and then ventured east to Ghirardelli Square. They're both located on the north side of the city and there’s no denying that the area is absolutely beautiful. You can’t help but feel relaxed as you walk down the beach with the waves crashing in the background. Once I finished up there—and soaked my shoe via a rouge wave—I headed south and caught a glimpse of the tourist trap known as Lombard Street. I didn’t dally there too long though; instead opting to snap a quick picture and be on my way.

Next, I ventured an hour or so southwest to check out Amoeba Records. Now, I’ve been to a lot of records stores across the country at this point and I was still in awe when I walked through their front door. It’s huge! I’m talking Best Buy or Target huge. There are just endless rows of records, CDs, DVDs and music memorabilia. I think I ended up spending a good two hours there, just sifting through their stock. Seriously, if you’re a music fan, you have to visit Amoeba once in your life. It’s like a haven for collectors. As the day turned to night, I wrapped things up with a quick dinner at Cha Cha Cha, another recommended spot. It didn’t disappoint and I’m definitely glad someone put it on my radar.

The following day, I decided to keep things pretty relaxed. I started out by attending a 49ers / Raiders tailgating party in Mission Bay. It was jam-packed with fans—I’d say at least 200—and located in the SoMa StrEat Food Park. They had a rather impressive selection of food trucks, accompanied by a few giant TVs sprinkled throughout the area. I had a good time chatting it up with locals, even though they didn’t really enjoy my love of the Browns. After the game, I grabbed a beer at Anchor Brewing, before journeying a bit north to 21st Amendment Brewery—one of my absolute favorites. I immediately got to ordering a Hell or High Watermelon and then kicked back to enjoy some more football for the rest of the afternoon.

All in all, I’d say it was a rather eventful weekend. I hit up several of San Francisco’s neighborhoods and even got a chance to bond with some locals. If I learned one thing about this city though, it’s that no matter where you go there’s always a beautiful view just around the corner.

-Steve-