San Francisco: For the Birds (Vultures, to Be Exact)

I suggest that Leagas Delaney’s Wayne Buder, who wrote that gossip is costing the San Francisco ad industry its integrity [Letters, Feb. 18], get used to the gossipy vultures. They’re the price of business in San Francisco, largely because there is no business in San Francisco.

As a 27-year veteran of advertising in the Bay Area, I’ve watched major agencies come and go. Precious few have succeeded. San Francisco was, and still is, a small town with few indigenous accounts, (the high-tech sector notwithstanding). Its not like the East Coast or the Midwest, where major corporations are in abundance. Unless an agency has been here for many decades (e.g., McCann-Erickson, J. Walter Thompson, Grey), it stands little chance of lasting.

When I arrived in San Francisco in 1975, it was dominated by a handful of local shops and those few long-standing branch offices, which shared what I called the “utilities.” Major agencies usually had a big West Coast bank and traded Pacific Bell Telephone, Pacific Gas & Electric Co., and the local radio and TV stations among themselves. There were practically no local national accounts to be had.

Then, in a just few years, Foote, Cone & Belding bought Hoenig Cooper Herrington to get Levi’s. Chiat\Day bought Hoeffer Deitrich Brown. One by one most local agencies were gobbled up, their businesses lost, their offices closed.

The dot-com boom drew the latest foray of big-name hunters. And one by one they’re closing their doors.

Agencies large, medium and small here are constantly competing for a tight pool of local accounts, and competing against every global network for any client of any stature anywhere else. Little wonder that rumors and vultures start flying with little reason.

Tom Cammarata
Principal, creative director
Coyote Hill Creative
Middletown, Calif.

In our Financial Report [Feb. 25], Young & Rubicam CEO Mike Dolan’s salary is listed as $200,138 in 2000. That sum represents the only amount paid between Oct. 4, 2000 (when Y&R was acquired by WPP) and the end of the year. The data in the table for Martin Sorrell’s bonus, $1.974 million, represents an amount earned in 2000, but actually paid early in 2001. Sorrell’s bonus for 2000 should have been shown as $819,000. Also, in Adweek’s Maddy Awards [March 25], we neglected to specify how many readers voted in the online poll. After eliminating the spammers, the true number of voters is approximately 3,500. Not all voters responded in every category.