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L.A.’s Diverse Creative and Tech Culture Energize New Agency President

David&Goliath’s Brian Dunbar sees city as a collection of unique towns


 

Photo: Karl J. Kaul/Wonderful Machine

Specs
Who Brian Dunbar
Old gig Managing partner, director of client services, David&Goliath
New gig President, David&Goliath
Age 54

What's been your Goliath moment since becoming president?
I think it's been really managing our growth while keeping our culture intact and thriving. The David&Goliath name is truly important and we really encourage our people to always be focusing on big challenges—so much so that we have a wall in our office where we have new employees create graphic representations of their personal Goliaths to challenge.

What is your favorite thing about working as a creative in L.A.?
The incredibly close proximity to the entertainment studios. They are such a creative force that we can partner with, tap into and be inspired by.

What's the most challenging?
Getting top talent to move from San Francisco and New York can be challenging at times. People may be really interested in working at David&Goliath, but sometimes are hesitant to move from a compact urban environment to sprawling L.A. If we can get them to spend some time here, it becomes easier once they get to know the city and all it has to offer. And, of course, going east or west across Los Angeles in the afternoon is never easy.

How is the relationship between agencies and the entertainment business evolving?
There's more collaboration and partnership. I think everyone realized they can accomplish way more working together than competing or working in silos. We have great relationships with the talent agencies, studios and record labels. That helps us create work that reflects pop culture and resonates with consumers. Plus, it also gives us an advantage over other agencies.

What's a common misconception of L.A. as a creative market?
Small, just service offices for big network New York or Chicago agencies, automotive centric, laid back. It's actually a large, diverse and vibrant collection of small, medium and large agencies.

How does the city of Los Angeles inform agency culture?
L.A. is a very culturally diverse city and I think the cultural makeup of the agencies reflects that. It certainly does at David&Goliath. I see a lot more diversity here than I have at other agencies in my career and I think that helps make the work more interesting. We also have Hollywood, the music industry and Silicon Beach that help strengthen our connection to pop culture and technology.

Is Silicon Beach legit?
Absolutely. There are something like 500 tech startups in Silicon Beach and they've received billions of dollars in funding. Some big successes have come from there like Hulu, Maker Studios, Tinder and Snapchat. Facebook, Google and YouTube all now have offices there too and they're attracting lots of great talent to L.A. They're also helping the advertising agencies in L.A. stay closer to the leading edge of technology, digital and social media.

What will be the most important thing you do in your first year in this job?
Again, really keeping our culture intact as we grow. Substantially growing our digital capabilities and staff and integrating them into everything we do, strengthening our operations to support recent and future growth, focusing our new business efforts and attracting great talent.

What are your best young hires obsessed with these days?
I'd say authenticity, discovering new things, social media, music and, of course, food trucks.

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