New Orleans agency staff work—and live—together

AirstreamIn August, the staff of Peter A. Mayer in New Orleans relocated to the shop’s Baton Rouge office, refugees of hurricane Katrina. They have since been living in two rental homes. Sharing bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchen duty while developing new work for clients has proven the ultimate test of creativity and teamwork for staffers. So says Josh Mayer, chief creative officer and son of the namesake founder of the New Orleans agency. In the Briarhurst house (named for the street), as many as seven people share the three bedrooms and two baths. While Briarhurst houses the more domestically minded staffers, Goodwood shelters the young and the creative, including Josh Mayer (“We’re planning to go roll the Briarhurst house tonight,” Mayer said). Among Briarhurst residents are John Engert, head of IT, his wife Jackie Conley-Engert, senior media buyer, and their one-year-old daughter Ariel. At Goodwood, senior writer Tony Norman and account director Jodie Warren parked an Airstream trailer in the backyard. Houseguests are common at Goodwood, as are parties, including the recent Octoberfest bash. “We’re trying to make as much fun of it as possible,” Mayer said. “We had a barbecue recently and three people came up from New Orleans and ended up spending the night. I sometimes sleep on the sofa.” So far, there have been no fights, and the crowded quarters have actually facilitated some good work, Mayer said. “One night we developed a brief over dinner and a bottle of wine and did some knockout work,” Mayer said. One of the guests, the 14-year-old macaw Ronbird that belongs to staffers Jan and Terri Pitesa, has caused a bit of trouble. Mayer said he did not realize the bird was in the room as he stripped off his clothes to take a shower: “He waited until I was completely naked to say ‘Hello.’"

—Posted by Richard Williamson