Day 411

Throughout our journey, I’ve been visiting a different agency at each stop. Yet, this month I’m at the west coast branch of Red Tettemer, which I first visited back in March while in Philadelphia. It’s pretty surreal to actually be here because back then this office was still more of an idea than an actual place. So, it’s interesting to see the vision brought to life. Prior to this, I’d never been to multiple branches of the same agency and I’ve always wondered if a company’s culture could translate to another area of the country. That’s why I was overjoyed when RTO+P invited me back.

When I first arrived, I assumed it would feel like any other month—a new office with new people. Just because it shares the RTO+P name, doesn’t necessarily mean it will feel like RTO+P. Yet, here I am a few weeks into my tenure and I very much stand corrected. Rather than feel like a separate office on the other side of the country, this feels like a direct extension of HQ. Sure, the weather is much nicer here but if you told me I was on a new floor of the Philly office, I’d have a hard time arguing with you.

I’m not sure if every agency is capable of extending their culture to different branches, but RTO+P clearly put a lot of work into getting it right. From the décor to the conference room, you can instantly tell they were created and arranged by the same individuals. To me, that’s what makes all the difference—the thought behind it. Once you factor in the personalities of several former Philly crew members, you have an office that feels right at home, regardless of what coast it’s on.

Outside the office, I’m also very much enjoying the Santa Monica neighborhood (although it is a tad bit pricey). We’re located one block from the beach, which is something I could really get used to. The area is just so beautiful; you can’t help but feel happy. Of course, I could never afford to live here but that won’t stop me from enjoying it while I’m in town. You just won't see me sitting down for dinner anytime soon. 

-Steve-

Day 404

Ladies and gentlemen, I’ve officially landed at the last and final stop of #TGAARed Tettemer West. Located in sunny Santa Monica, it’s a much smaller shop than the RTO+P flagship in Philly. Yet, I can’t help but notice that it does maintain the same wit and charm I grew accustomed to back in March. The group here is only a handful deep, but they're all pretty awesome and it's nice to see that I already know a few of them from my previous stop with the agency. It turns out some of the Philly folks decided to pack their bags and make the move west in order to help RTO+P conquer another coastline.

While I’m already having a grand time with the crew here, I have to admit this week is turning out to be a string of rather unfortunate circumstances. For those of you who don’t know, this month I’m staying with some friends in Sherman Oaks, which is about 20 miles northeast of the RTO+P office. I had originally planned on doing an AirBnB again, but all the locations within walking distance were hovering around $2,500. After an endless number of calculations, I actually discovered that the cheapest option would be to use a ride share to and from the office each day.

Then again... that is going to run me about $1,200, which still isn't very ideal. So, at the last minute, I thought I’d try my hand at biking in on my first day. I mean, 18 miles isn’t that far, right? Turns out it is. Especially when Google takes you down a bunch of roads that lack bike lanes. The whole journey ended up taking me about 2.5 hours. See, just when you think the project has encountered its last hiccup, I go and create my own. The next day, I tried Lyft and even that took 1.5 hours. I then spent the evening looking into car rentals, Zipcar, Car2Go, scooter rentals and public transportation, but they're all too expensive, too time consuming or non-existent in the LA market. 

It looks like I’ll have to settle with Uber after all—and I’m none too happy about it. To save a bit of money, I'll be working from home two days a week though. It's all extremely annoying, but I guess it says a lot about living and commuting here. If you don't live in the neighborhood you work, get ready for endless traffic and nightmare commutes. In the end, I can’t complain too much though. The weather has been absolutely beautiful since I arrived, the people at RTO+P West are pretty awesome and my friends have been showing me all around LA. Honesty, I can’t think of a better way to close out this journey than with good weather, good vibes and good people.

-Steve-

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-