Where Has All the Creative Culture Gone?

By Matt Van Hoven 

In the US it’s generally acceptable to say there are four major points of advertising across the country. New York, LA, Chicago and Minneapolis have for some time been where ad folk go to do creative work &#151 the cultures of each locale being what they were defined (to an extent) the work that was done there. Today that scene has changed dramatically, and new hot spots have emerged and receded to the point that it’s probably impossible to call any American city a hub anymore.

New York is, but only because this is where it all began. The industry is entrenched here to a fault; it’s over-hyped as a cultural center, if you ask me. But then, so are other cities.

The answer of where to work will probably always to New York, in spite of how hard it blows for young’uns hoping to get in. Yeah yeah, if you can make it here. Fine. But these days Chicago, like New York, is less enticing than ever. LA? C’mon. Don’t even get me started with Detroit/SF. And Minneapolis &#151 well the winter weather has finally made the ad-biz there feel cliched. Cold, barren, desolate. That doesn’t mean any of this is true, but as the industry crumbles so should our ideas of where creativity spawns.

Anyway, Minneapolis says they’ve got the chops to do it. Hmm, 27 shops there even got together to build a Web site (username/pw required, please send to agencyspy at gmail dot com) that says how good they are. But if there’s one thing we know about advertising, it’s that the best things in life get play due to word of mouth. And people hate the cold. Hint: This probably will not work.

If I put my money on a move, tomorrow, it would be to Austin, Portland, Denver, San Fran, or (for your Monday “fuck it all” selection) Zihuatenejo, Mexico. That’s where they go at the end of Shawshank.

But listen, I’m not making these distinctions because those cities are actually good at advertising (which they may or may not be). I’m picking them because they’re mildly pleasing, pretty warm, offer good tunes and a bit of outdoorsiness and probably some nice craft beers. Hustling happens everywhere and although yeah that means New York will always be “it”, it’s time we stop thinking geographically. And start thinking about which town has the best beer, because alcohol = creativity.


More: “State of Your State: Minnesota’s Ad Scene