On Being an Advertising Agency in San Francisco

Non sequitur

by Dean Casalena

We’re the San Francisco Bay Area. We’re where your technology comes from. We built you the Internet and smartphones, and we radically redefined how people communicate with one another and with brands. Other people helped, probably, but who’s to say?

It’s still the Wild West out here—or, it was the Wild West, and then it was the Dead West, but now it’s definitely wild again. San Francisco is booming with new companies with big ideas (and new companies with dumb ideas). These companies continually challenge the status quo, and leverage new technology to create and distribute products like never before. Technology is a sector that pervades every other sector. Movie studios that develop new software to create stunning effects are technology companies. Transport companies that build apps to connect drivers and drivees at the touch of a button, are technology companies. Music streaming and discovery services are technology companies. Businesses that leverage technology and endeavor to be on the cutting edge flock to San Francisco, where investors give out funding like candy to a baby. Also part of the ecosystem are companies that exist simply to serve the technological needs of the others, and these fuel the boom by continually removing business start up hurdles.

MUH-TAY-ZIK | HOF-FER is here in the middle of it, working with tech wielding– and tech creating companies, large and small. Companies trying to get bought by Google, and companies that… are Google. We love San Francisco, and we think it’s the best place for an advertising agency to thrive, and provide immense value to the surrounding surging market of innovators, as well as the globe. While its true we pay more on rent than Jay Z pays for champagne, we put together a list of some great things about running an agency in San Francisco

1. Startups have no brand recognition

What an exciting challenge – to introduce to the world companies that have created products more advanced than anything seen before. There are a great deal of businesses out here that have tons of brand recognition, and they’re interesting for their own reasons of course. But the blank slate (and venture-backed budgets) can allow for some exceptional out-of-the-box creativity—no legacy red tape to worry about. Young companies are also willing to take big risks.


2. Big companies compete with startups

Big companies in the bay area move fast—they have to—because their competition does, too. We suggest crazy (genius) creative ideas with aggressive deadlines, and sometime we see a row of green lights. Hats off to you, companies who don’t rest on their laurels.

3. Value-oriented culture

Tech millionaires wear hoodies here, or they work from the ski slopes of Lake Tahoe—and we let them, because they’re making money by providing real value—not by jumping through business jargon hoops, but by building products that save consumers and businesses a lot of money. Conversely, you can’t survive as an agency here if you’re not also value oriented. Results-driven. The stakes are high but they’re very motivating.

4. Location perks

Alongside the culture of ambition, there is one that is a desire to squeeze every drop of life out of err… life. The Bay Area provides a means of balancing that hard work, with hard play. Aside from the bay itself, which provides a wealth of natural beauty and activity, there are the redwoods for amazing camping and hiking, Lake Tahoe just a short drive away for boating and winter sports, and even Yosemite as a day-trip-able experience. For the work-hard play-hard individual, this is heaven.

5. Rejecters of the status quo

We feel right at home with this philosophy. We in the advertising industry have been doing it for generations. With creativity and fresh outlook at the core of our business, it’s no wonder we’re so happy to be surrounded by a subculture and business climate of independent thought.

6. Access to Social

We invented social media here, you know. Those filter names on Instagram—we live on those streets. Our hipsters thought they were cool before your hipsters thought they were. Our friends don’t do their own laundry because they work at Facebook. Snapchat and KiK dropped by to give us demonstrations of their soon-to-be release features. People exchange twitter handles in bars. Social may not be forever, and its landscape changes so dramatically, so frequently, but it gets peddled to our kids before it is to yours, so we have a hot minute longer to figure it out and learn to use it to connect people with the brands they love. Social media gave birth to two-way brand engagement; “organic” opt-in advertising. We’re at the forefront, and we’ll keep you posted about what’s next.

In conclusion, maybe you could just re-read my introduction. Please contribute to this article by fighting with each other and me in the comments section below.