Citing Market Woes, Ground Zero Leaves New York

Citing a “miserable” climate for ad business in New York, Ground Zero has shut the office it opened on West 14th Street just over a year ago.

The shop, based in Marina del Rey, Calif., came to New York in October 2000. The $5-10 million Voss bottled water business was its first account. It also handled projects for ESPN and JetBlue Airlines but failed to land other business.

“The state of the New York market is miserable at the moment,” said agency president Andrew Gledhill, who described the closure as a “hiatus” from the Big Apple.

“It doesn’t make sense to be swimming against the incredible tide of the New York market right now,” said Gledhill, who had divided his time between the coasts. “No one needs an overhead they don’t need to have at a time like this. When the market picks up, we’ll follow it.”

Tyler Whisnand, the office’s creative partner, is returning to Kessels Kramer in Amsterdam, Netherlands, as a creative director. Brand planner Natasha Jakubowski has accepted a post at Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer/Euro RSCG in New York. Another creative partner, Leslie Ali, left last fall.

The office’s most recent campaign was for Voss. Print ads likened the Voss experience to a “revelation” and featured the brand’s sleek, cylindrical decanters floating above people’s heads. The account is now being handled out of Marina del Rey.

Last September, Ground Zero launched a guerrilla campaign touting JetBlue’s twice-daily service between Long Beach Airport and New York’s JFK. It also broke TV spots for a contest sponsored by ESPN’s College GameDay.

Aside from the economic woes, the New York office suffered an unforeseeable blow when its name became synonymous with the site of the World Trade Center attack.

“That’s one of those things you can never plan for,” said Court Crandall, creative partner. But he said it was not a major factor in the decision to shut the outpost. “After Sept. 11, business [opportunities] were few and far between.”