olson and r/ga are heading west

Two agencies that I really like, Olson and R/GA, are opening offices in San Francisco. Luckily, I like it in the Bay Area. You know, if they are hiring…

Frisco is an interesting move because, though there isn’t the client base that was there during the dotcom boom, the talent is there and anyway it’s California and California is where it’s at (this, of course, from a guy who went to high school in California).

Olson, which has 43 open positions, “plans to have personnel rotate between San Francisco and Minneapolis, much in the manner that Dan Wieden initially built out the European and Asian network for his Portland, Ore.-based Wieden & Kennedy.”

That is a great idea. The issue with satellite offices is that so often they don’t share the culture of the home office (and Olson’s Minneapolis headquarters has a very strong and envied culture), and that results in tensions between the offices and a drop-off in work. The key is to expand while still keeping a body of work and style that is recognizably yours. Basically, it’s important to avoid the “Y&R trap” where your agency turns into a corporate entity that houses a bunch of disparate accounts. The rotation of people from Minneapolis to Frisco and back will ensure that there is no culture difference and that Olson stays Olson.

All that nice stuff said, San Francisco is an expensive proposition. People like to live there, but you have to pay them a lot so they can afford the city, the office space and other essentials are expensive and then there is all that inter-office travel and relocation for rotated staff…

If this doesn’t work out for either Olson or R/GA it is going to be an expensive failure.

Still, I wish them the best of luck.


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