For the new kid on the block, it can be difficult to find a place in the community. However, it helps to have a friend who can show you around. For New York-based Y&R (Young & Rubicam), a global ad agency, their acquisition of the U.S. Navy as a client paved the way for the firm’s expansion into Memphis. “They’ve been a dream client so far,” says Ken Dowling, Managing Director at Y&R’s new Memphis office. “These guys are fantastic. We love working with them, and they love coming down here. Part of the pitch from Y&R was to put this office here and have that proximity so that we could cultivate this relationship.” Getting started was no easy task, but Y&R found Memphis to be fertile ground for their burgeoning naval campaign.
“The level of people and talent in this market is tremendous, looking at other agencies and St. Jude. We can go out looking for someone with a specific talent, because that talent is right here in Memphis.” Creative types from around the area have joined the team at Y&R to help service the Navy’s campaign, a $457 million, five-year contract. Y&R also acts as a holding company, so employees from multiple agencies currently reside in Y&R’s downtown office space at 80 Monroe Ave. Since the Navy was such a large client, Y&R needed to set up shop close to the Millington base and find the best employees around. VML, Burson Marsteller, Wonderman, and Uniworld Group all handle different aspects of the operation, but getting them to work together hasn’t been a challenge.
“We had one guy from the navy come in and say that he couldn’t tell which firm people were from,” says Dowling. “People cluster more by skill set. I don’t want anyone to lose their connection to where they came from, but they’re here as part of this office in Memphis. It has its own culture and style now.”
The main room is wide open, allowing for easy communication and collaboration. “It’s an ad agency, so the office is open space,” says Dowling. Some creative types can hold a group meeting in one corner near a creative director’s desk, while another half of the space, set up with couches, a tv, and a writable wall, allows for note taking and brainstorming.
The communal environment extends to the kitchen. “A big difference versus New York is that there, people don’t bring their lunch to work. We built this out and 40 people are bringing stuff from home. There’s the opportunity to meet and mingle, watch some TV, and see what else is going on.” The collaboration and commingling has ensured a friendly and productive work environment for the Y&R staff. However, if privacy is still required, one only needs to explore the Million Dollar Quartet-themed conference rooms.