From Canada to California: Transitioning to Destination #3.

After my stint in Montreal, taking a look at the French side of the Canadian business, I brought The Saturn Return Project to its third destination: the West Coast of the United States. Los Angeles marks the mid-way point of The Saturn Return Project journey.

Having launched this endeavor from New York, I was curious as to what made my American counterparts on the left coast unique from other markets in the States, and halfway through a six-stop jaunt around the world seemed a good point to check in with the California advertising hubs.

Advertising industry aside, there is something about the West Coast that is unlike anywhere else in the U.S. There are notable cultural distinctions even within the state of California, between the markets of Los Angeles and Southern California (SoCal), and San Francisco and Northern California (NoCal).

As Rob Schwartz, Executive Creative Director of TBWA\LA put it, Los Angeles is known “for gangs and fake boobs.” It’s true. Southern California’s reputation comes from Hollywood, from its fascination with celebrity culture, from its ever-sunny weather, for its proximity to Mexico, and for both its vanity and its hustle. People who move to Los Angeles are out to accomplish something, most often in the entertainment industry. Countless budding musicians and wannabe actors, producers and directors move to Los Angeles to take a stab at “making it big,” waiting to be discovered and given a chance to realize a dream. But many of these same individuals, along with countless others who aren’t chasing fame, are true artists pursuing their craft. Whatever the heart of their motivation, Los Angeles is full of creative people.

Typically in the past, Los Angeles was not known for its advertising industry prowess. It was a one-horse town, that stallion being TBWA\Chiat\Day LA. For The Saturn Return Project, that would have left zero options, as I aim to visit different agency networks in each destination, and I began this voyage with TBWA\South Africa. However, within the past ten years, quite a few shops have joined the stable to expand the ad industry market in Los Angeles, including Deutsch, 72andSunny, David&Goliath, 180LA, Ignited and more. Bringing a distinguishable SoCal flair and ethos, these small-but-quickly-growing agencies have made big names for themselves, creating a true advertising community in Los Angeles.

For a different take on exploring a destination market, I visited with a small handful of agencies in Los Angeles, rather than a deep immersion with one agency, to diversify the perspectives shared with me and to create a more robust picture of the market. Over the next few weeks, I will share the insights and experience that the Los Angeles industry greats shared with me during my visits.

Let’s dive in to Destination Number 3 of The Saturn Return Project. As is the case with anything I post, I welcome others in the industry (yes, that’s you) to weigh in to share their (your) experience. Whether it is contradictory or supportive of the perspective shared, it all contributes to the web of conversation painting a full picture of the industry on the West Coast, and the ad professionals who comprise those markets. I invite you to join this global conversation about the state of the advertising industry in 2011 and to bring others into the conversation, as well.     

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