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 312

I have to say that my first week here at Y&R Group Seattle is going rather swimmingly. I’m already immersed in a variety of projects and the people in the office have been absolutely wonderful to me. Everyone seems to be genuinely interested in the project and there’s more than a handful, who have been following along from the very beginning. It’s pretty weird to have conversations with people I just met about things that happened to me months ago. Sometimes I forget that I blog about this stuff.

The Y&R office, itself, is a rather large departure from the cozy, home-like atmosphere of 97 Degrees West. The space offers a lot of modern accents that focus on clean lines, collaborative areas and amazing views of the city. They even have a roof deck that allows you to take in miles and miles of Seattle’s skyline. Of course, they’re also all about celebrating Seattle’s culture, which is why every conference room is named after a Seattle-based band. It is rather funny to say, “Hey, let’s meet in Pearl Jam. Oh, it’s booked? Let’s head to Nirvana then.”

Another great element of the office is their kitchen. To say it’s fully stocked would be an understatement. Not that I’m going to try, but I’m pretty sure I could live off the morsels they offer here—from tabletops loaded with fruit, chips and crackers to cabinets filled with cereal, peanut butter, yogurt and loaves of bread. Clearly, this is one agency that knows health and happiness begins with the stomach.

Aside from the delicious snacks and colorful décor, Y&R is populated by a very diverse and lively group of creatives and agency folk. Just peeking at the desks around the office, you’ll find evidence of gamers, sports fans, cooks, runners, hikers, artists, musicians—people from all walks of life. They’re from all over the country too. I’ve already met two people from Cleveland and my desk neighbor just moved here from Philadelphia a few weeks ago.

One thing I’m really looking forward to next week is attending the Seattle Interactive Conference. Y&R is putting a really awesome booth together and they’ve invited me along for the ride. This year’s theme is all about celebrating the “makers” of the world—a group I’ve become rather close with over the past 10 months. I haven’t been to many ‘professional’ conferences, so I’m excited to see what they’re like. And after hearing what the agency has in store for their area, I can’t wait to see it brought to life. Of course that rings true for just about everything they have me working on.

It’s going to be a fun month, indeed.

-Steve-

Day 102

A beautiful building near Philly's Fishtown neighborhood 

As I was walking to work this morning, I couldn’t help but look up at the buildings along the way. At first, I was disappointed to see nothing but shades of concrete grey. But then, I started to look a little closer. I began to notice the intricate details within each of the buildings. From elaborate stone window dressings to archways adorned with decorative latticework. All things I don’t take enough time to appreciate the true beauty of. Yet, for whatever reason, all these labor-intensive details stood out to me this morning.

Upon entering the office, I started to think about all the new construction I saw over the weekend—the modern-looking apartment complexes with colored glass walls, Juliet balconies and stainless steel lighting fixtures. It was the same style I saw in new constructions throughout Cleveland, Boston and New York City. It’s almost as if these companies are using cookie-cutters to form these structures. It’s a bit unsettling, because there’s nothing unique about them. There’s nothing that makes you understand where you are and what came before.

One of the city's many murals 

One of the city's many murals 

That’s why citywide creative projects, such as Philly’s Mural Arts Program, are so important. They help maintain and cultivate a city’s true identity. But in reality, we can't rely on such initiatives. It’s up to the people to make things happen. In each of the agencies I’ve visited thus far, I’ve meet extraordinary people who not only utilize their creative minds for clients, but also pursue outside endeavors that add to their city’s personality. From hosting shows at an art house cinema to helping rebuild a neighborhood’s brand and vision, these collective projects help to keep the “cookie-cutters” at bay.

They may not be the flashiest areas, but you can always tell when you’re entering an artistic neighborhood, because it’s sure to be the most distinct and captivating. So, I encourage everyone reading this to look at where you live and see if there’s anything you can do to improve it, distinguish it or even rebuild it. We are all creative people and that should never be limited to the hours of 9-5.

-Steve-