I’m making a point. Be patient.
A while back, like thirty-plus years back, I was at Healy Schutte & Comstock as an account person working on the M&T Bank account. As jobs go in advertising, it was a pretty good place to be. I liked advertising, but suspected that to really get the whole effect, at some point you needed to be at one of the really big-name shops. Buffalo didn’t really have any national shops to speak of, so that made it a bit problematic. But Rochester did. Rochester was home to Bausch & Lomb, Kodak, Xerox, along with Young & Rubicam and BBDO. I Left HS&C and took a job with BBDO’s Rochester office. BBDO was a great shop and I enjoyed it, in spite of the ninety-minute commute each way. It was worth the effort, the time and the drive—I learned a ton more about being an account-guy. From that experience I could go anywhere–I’m thinking.
A couple years later, while talking to old friends at the Buffalo Ad Club’s annual awards dinner, Joe Crowley, CEO at Crowley Webb & Assoc., and I were introduced. A friend mentioned that I was with BBDO. Joe immediately responded, “You’re with BBDO? Ever think about moving to Buffalo?” I said that I actually live in Tonawanda. We had breakfast together that following Tuesday, and Joe offered me a job at the table. Turns out that working for Joe Crowley & John Webb was the ultimate job in advertising.
Back then there was a lot of value that came from working in a major national ad agency. Got me an amazing opportunity in my own hometown. But apparently that’s not so much the case now. Robert Solomon, the ultimate Account Manager, recently wrote a blog post “Where to find your first job in advertising, or your next one.”
Robert goes on at some length about why the “Ogilvys, JWTSs, and BBDOs of the world have been playing a losing hand. Caught between the avarice of their holding company parents and the savings-at-all-costs procurement people, they will be forced to cut their staffs, reduce investment in the people they do keep, and watch as more senior clients grow frustrated with their junior agency counterparts, and put their accounts into revolving-door reviews.”
In his post, he goes into greater detail, but you get the point. The big shops don’t carry the value and prestige they once did. But Buffalo doesn’t have these giants of the industry—likely never will. I’m convinced that what Buffalo does have are a handful of great regional houses along with a burgeoning number of cutting-edge tech-oriented boutique shops. When you factor in a cadre of great photographers, printers and production vendors, any client pretty much has everything they’ll ever need right here. Go Bills.