Some out-of-town ad agencies do make it--in a very big way--in Los Angeles.
And the secret to that success is very simple: Look, act and feel local. Just ask Steve Hayman, executive vice president and general manager of the Los Angeles office of the Chicago-based ad firm Foote, Cone & Belding Communications Inc.
"Our company didn't grow up as some Chicago-based corporation that recently decided to put an office in Los Angeles," said Hayman. "We've been here since 1908 when we won the Sunkist account." Eighty years later, it still has the Sunkist business.
Of all the major ad firms that have their headquarters outside of Los Angeles, none do more business here than Foote Cone, which will bill its clients nearly $260 million this year. Among its biggest clients are Mazda, Orion Pictures and Denny's. For years, Foote Cone's local office did more business than any of the area's home-grown ad firms. But it recently was passed by Chiat/Day, which picked up the Nissan advertising business.
So in touch with the Los Angeles area is Foote Cone that the most prestigious annual advertising awards in the West--the Belding Awards--are named for Don Belding, the agency's co-founder, who made his home in Los Angeles.
With a staff of 300 in Los Angeles, the firm ranks among the West's top ad agency employers. But success does not come easy. "This is a very, very difficult market," Hayman said. "Every time a piece of business of any size opens up, every agency in town goes after it."