I happily write this from my studio apartment, despite it now also being my office. I left New York City temporarily for the comfort of the Long Island suburbs for part of the pandemic, but the experience of that distance reminded me of what makes the advertising and marketing industry in New York so magnetic. This is why I choose not to leave.
Working in advertising in New York is like having coworkers everywhere. Whether you’re on the brand or agency side, a creative or a planner, we all speak the same buzzwords and acronyms—and we run into each other all the time. These impromptu meetings push your relationships beyond casual acquaintances. You’ll see them at a Central Park socially distant meetup in a month or two. You can’t recreate that magic online or in another city.
New Yorkers may be thought of as rude and unapproachable, but we know the difference between being nice and being kind. We tell it like it is, we give tough feedback, but we’re also the first to pull up a chair to dig into the problem with you. We might be workaholics, but we produce great work, work that has an outsize impact on culture. And when you create work that you are relentlessly passionate about and you do it out of a place of tough love, you inevitably come away with some lifelong friends in the process.
New York is a playground for marketers. It’s a participatory city, and impactful advertising more and more often hinges on experience and interactivity. The New York Philharmonic is doing pop-up street concerts and standup comedians are taking to rooftops to do socially distant shows.
It’s a major advantage to be in a city as diverse as your consumer, to see and feel firsthand the experience of all kinds of people from across the world. In New York, there are living insights all around you. At least once a week mid-run, I stop in my tracks to listen in on a conversation that informs the work I do the very next day.
The way New Yorkers have shown up during the pandemic is really reminiscent of the spirit of the marketing community here. We were first to market in mask wearing and social distancing, and created some very cool out-of-home ads and a national PSA to encourage this behavior. We all leaned out of our windows donning pots and pans at 7 p.m. each day to celebrate our frontline workers.
In opening up again, we’ve done so with unparalleled ingenuity and that characteristic NYC scrappiness and resiliency. I’m betting on that to see us through, to even usher in new innovations around New York institutions like Broadway that are impossible to replicate elsewhere. I also expect it to happen in advertising here because we look at problems as opportunities and we’re used to tough love.
We all know someone who has a shirt that says “I <3 [insert city here].” That comes from an advertising campaign for New York in 1976, one that turned around the reputation of NYC despite its simplicity. New York is responsible for the first radio ad, the first electronic ad and the first Super Bowl spot.
So, I dare you. Give me a reason to leave. Because the Covid-19 crisis hasn’t.
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