Written by an ad agency CEO, who shall remain nameless, here is what you’ve been waiting for — a rundown on LA’s digital agency situation.
La La Land — Home of fun, sun and fish tacos! A double double from In’n'Out complete with biblical scripture right smack on the bottom of your cup. Think you east coasters have it tough? Try getting from Santa Monica to the Valley at 8am. You ain’t got nothin’ on LA. The only place on earth where you schedule your life around our WWII era traffic grid and get an IOU from the government for your state tax refund.
What does LA offer the agency world? Well we basically have 2 main industries out here — Entertainment and Automotive — and both are sure to make you question that degree in advertising before your 3 year unpaid internship is up. We also have a lot of people that ‘should be’ in entertainment directing, producing or acting in the next $100 million opening weekend blockbuster but are relegated to the second tier ‘ad agency’ world.
The following list is definitely not comprehensive but does list many of the LA agencies everybody’s come to know, love and hate all at the same time. You see LA is almost it’s own bubble (much like NYC) and we kinda like it that way. So for a glimpse inside the bubble before our state goes bankrupt, read on…
Here’s your list of Traditional Agencies in the LA area; yes I know this isn’t an all inclusive list but here are the major companies. These companies are all ‘full service’ meaning they have one Flash designer on staff that has qualified them as interactive experts. If you want to bitch, do it in the comments.
— Deutsch LA — Picked up PlayStation after Chiat got too cocky (as usual); work out of LA office often rivals that of NY office.
— DDB LA — Activision big client; should be doing more exciting work for their clients like Droga5.
— Chiat Day / Tequila — Like most ‘typical’ Chiat work, new G commercials seem to have been ‘ideated’ during a creative circle jerk. Does anybody outside of advertising even get the commercials? This shop does great work for Apple but ended up getting thrown to the curb by PlayStation; probably cockiest agency in the known universe; still can’t get traditional creatives to work with Tequila (their interactive group).
— Saatchi & Saatchi — Toyota main client; hurting due to cutbacks in automotive; lots of great people there so hopefully they turn it around. Didn’t shine when losing recent Toyota Why Not? campaign to Attik (Dentsu).
— Team One — Lexus main client. If you’re hiring in the LA area, you can expect to have more than a few people from Team One sending resumes over within an hour of posting (McElroy being the other).
— McElroy — Used to have Nestle account; not sure if they’re around anymore.
— Mendelhson Zein — Carl’s Jr main client; bought Spacedoghouse to leverage ‘interactive’; not sure old school way of thought will give way to the new.
— David & Goliath — One of the best lesser known agencies in LA; picked up Kia in 1999.
— Ogilvy — Think they do Mattel work; not sure about anything else.
— Secret Weapon — Love those Jack in the Box commercials? Here’s the company that does them. If you’re on the east coast, all you need to view is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mx5DPi7GtcM>here —″>this clip to get a sense of the great creative that comes out of this shop. This commercial in particular spurred a legal battle with Carl’s Jr/Hardee’s.
Continued after the jump.
Our very own little cottage industry focused mainly on the Entertainment world. Most of these Entertainment based companies do traditional work and then throw in interactive (banners / site development) at cost or sometimes free in hopes of building their ‘digital’ capabilities. Oh wait — the traditional agencies do this too.
— Trailer Park — Great movie trailers, not much else; brought in Y&R honcho to go outside of ‘entertainment’
— Crew Creative — Mostly movies sites; nothing special
— Ignited — Started by Activision big-wig. Branching out from packaging, print, etc. and now doing alot more media
— Petrol — Great print / OOH work, interactive is severly lacking; mostly gaming companies. Carpet bombs awards programs specific to gaming; hope they’re not charging their clients for that.
This list usually comprises boutique shops that run from 5-20 employees; mostly Flash, mostly burnt out from “hurry up and wait” entertainment mentality, mostly only exist anywhere from 6 months to 2 years with average employee term 3-6 months.
— RED Interactive — Great flash shop; does agency production work and just about every UFC site out there; how much longer will employees work 18 hour days there?
— Hybrid Studio — Mostly cookie cutter movie sites, nothing special; creative director is difficult and prone to childish tantrums in the office. Parent company Visionaire Group has a widget platform (Xtreme Widgets).
— Neoganda — Mostly movie sites and production work for Agencies; very small shop.
— 65 Media — Small boutique; did some great Simpsons work.
— Ted Perez & Associates — Nothing special cookie cutter movie sites; doing agency production work.
DIGITAL — OLD SCHOOL — Pre Bubble
These are the old guard agencies that survived the Bubble Burst and were either acquired or still going on strong. How much longer can they try to justify their 2004-2007 billings in a Recession?
— Whitman-Hart — Old DNA Studio — roots were in entertainment; Friends and Family special account as CD was married to a department head at Universal; did a lot of Universal work (duh!); Was doing work for Scion and Best Buy.
— iCrossing (Proxicom) — The search firm buying a holdover from the dot-com bust; who would’ve thunk it? Proxicom is EXPENSIVE. Wonder how much that will hurt them trying to navigate a recession.
— Sapient — Even more EXPENSIVE! What exactly do a lot of their on-site ‘consultants’ do?
— Meredith (Genex) — Has a cool culture but not because they want to but because they have to with the very boring work they do; mostly automotive clients so remains to be scene how much they’ve gotten hit in the downturn.
— Apollo Interactive — Jack in the Box keeps the LA office afloat.
— RPA — Honda main client; layoff rumors abound.
DIGITAL – NEW SCHOOL – Post Bubble
Most of these agencies were born out of the Bubble Burst. Thriving in LA ecosystem as Old School agencies outprice themselves in the market.
— 2Advanced — Eric Jordan — owner — great designer but not so much on the DJ end. Has EA and Activison as big clients; remains to be seen if they can actually hold a client longer than a year; 2A rivals Chiat Day on cockiness meter.
— Zugara — Hit during downturn with Lexus/Toyota clients; does alot of kids (gen x and y) and gaming work.
— Blitz — Very talented shop born out of E Studios; lost GE work but picked up project with Google (now defunct Lively); like Google shop tends to be ‘run’ by engineers.
— BIG Interactive — Inmates are running the asylum.
— Schematic — Hottest shop in LA right now but have they grown too big for their britches? Jury out on whether they can compete against other digital firms versus the architectural firms they’ve been beating up on.
— Exopolis — Doing alot more video work as of late; did pretty impressive Xbox Live intro.
The true ‘Production Shops’ that are now butting heads with Traditional Agencies. Most of them are now trying to build Interactive Capabilities to stop being the BDA’s bitch.
— Anonymous Content — Roster of A+ plus directing talent.
— @Radical Media — Also has great roster of talent and does great production work.