Independent Creative Studios Open Their Doors to the Public in WalkaboutNYC 2012

There has been no better time for independent creative studios to disrupt the branding, advertising and marketing industry long dominated by large Mad Men type agencies.  Thanks to new technology like social media and modern attitudes, the current generation of smaller boutique firms are proving themselves worthy of attention from big name clients.

For those interested in stepping foot into the offices of the talent responsible for many of today’s most imaginative campaigns, 25 of the leading independent creative agencies in New York City will be opening its doors to visitors on October 19th.

WalkaboutNYC 2012 will be the first-of-its-kind event which allows the public an opportunity to go behind-the-scenes at some of the coolest studios stretching from the Flatiron District to Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Meet with designers, technologists and copywriters for an in-depth look into their world and why their companies have an edge over the outsized competition on Madison Avenue.

What gives an independent agency the advantage?

An independent agency has the advantage in being able to work “very up-close and personal to build relationships,” said Anne Aretz of Moment, a digital product design agency with just over 40 employees. Clients include MTV, AT&T, and Citi Group. “You can really create and curate the type of environment you have within a small agency, which definitely makes a difference. Some of our clients stay with us because we care about our clients as people, not just the project they are paying us to execute.  It’s a personal effect that we think really shows in our work.”

Sarah McCormick at Canvas adds, “We’re small on purpose.  We really want to make sure that everyone knows about every project that’s going on – No one is operating in a vacuum. We know each other well, so we know the best combinations for each campaign and can tap those kinds of resources for strengths and weakness to the best of our ability.”  Despite a staff of only 25, Canvas has garnered such clients as AMC, Microsoft, Showtime, and Sony.

“You can pick up a lot of bad habits at those big agencies,” said Jonathan Hills of Domani Studios, a 50-plus person agency that specializes in digital production work with a focus on fashion, luxury, and prestige brands. Clients include Estee Lauder and Starwood Hotels and Resorts. “The halls of Ogilvy don’t reek of inspiration. We’re much more excited about staff that hasn’t done that.  We want a group that has stayed more organic and creative.   It’s almost better if you’ve never had a huge support staff to rely on because it keeps you flexible and wearing lots of hats.”

Andrew Ackermann of Area17 acknowledges that many of his clients have reached out to him because of the frustration they have encountered working with larger agencies.  He explained, “Large agencies have too many cooks in the kitchen, making the experience impersonal and sluggish.  Our small size allows us to be nimble and quick.”

WPP and Omnicom watch out! The little fish are getting the big bites, too.

So take a walk about and let me know what you discover.

Lisa Chau has been involved with Web 2.0 since graduate school at Dartmouth College, where she completed an independent study on blogging. She was subsequently highlighted as a woman blogger in Wellesley Magazine, published by her alma mater. She has been published in US News and Forbes on the subject of social media.  Follow her on Twitter @Lisa03755