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The Madison Avenue Mystique
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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Most of the big-time agencies have an office in New York City. Of course they do. It's a given.

But why?

Yes, NYC is still the biggest city in the U.S.; it has the most access to the most people. It is a business hub; you can find a little bit of everything, somewhere, in NYC. In the beginning of the Golden Age of advertising, those facts were essential. Brick-and-mortar was the only thing around, so if you didn't have an office in NYC, your shop wouldn't be taken seriously.

Let's fast-forward to today. Now, we have LA, Chicago, Denver, Austin, Atlanta, Seattle, Portland, Minneapolis, Charlotte, and Richmond; all cities that boast a solid concentration of agency life and culture.

New York may be the Big Apple, but there's plenty of fruit on the table. So why still the preference?

The reason why we're posing this question comes from the recent news that North Carolina's McKinney — a 240-person shop, now owned by Cheil Worldwide — is opening another office in New York. According to AdAge, the office will also serve as the center of U.S. operations for Cheil Worldwide.

We understand that presentation means a lot. And maybe a lot of the old school of thought about the importance of having a physical presence in NY still prevails. But if, as an industry, we talk about innovation, the speed of business, the need to be adpative, the rise of social and mobile, is it a contradiction to then harp about the need for an (predictably) expensive lot? Cheil said it can be a place to service business and attract talent, but can't that be done anywhere? Plus, the winters in Durham, N.C. would attract more talent than those of New York.

Perhaps we're nitpicking, but it is a conversation that is not usually had. How important is location to you? And is having a physical New York presence still necessary to be taken seriously?

Thoughts much appreciated.


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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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