Advertisers Find It Tough to Survive In the City | Adweek Advertisers Find It Tough to Survive In the City | Adweek
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Outsider Agencies Are Drawn to NYC Like Moths to a Flame

Hard to get respect

Photo: Comstock/Getty Images

New York is a humbling market—but big fish from smaller ponds just can’t seem to stay away.

Take Leo Burnett, for example. Its New York office’s biggest account win since opening in 2011—Chobani yogurt—left slightly more than a year after arriving. Now, on the eve of its second anniversary next month, the office’s staff numbers only 25, and much of its work, for the likes of Allstate and Kellogg’s, flows from accounts based in the shop’s Chicago headquarters.

Noteworthy examples of imports that have fizzled in the Big Apple include Fallon (1995-2005) and Ground Zero (2000-2002).

Still, two more shops anchored in other cities—San Francisco’s Goodby Silverstein & Partners and Durham, N.C.’s McKinney—have arrived in recent months in the largest ad market in the world.

With more expensive rents and salaries, little innate respect for outside agency brands and the existing high concentration of agencies, why would well-established shops even bother? In a word, talent.

When it comes to attracting the best, “the combination of being a startup and being in New York is about as compelling as it comes,” explained Jay Haines, CEO of executive headhunting firm Grace Blue. New shops attract more entrepreneurial staffers, and the city offers more than the job itself.

Newcomers better be prepared to dig in, though. “In New York, you have to earn the right to success,” Haines said, adding, “That takes time.”

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