While the ad industry once turned its nose at Los Angeles for the likes of New York or Chicago, the City of Angels has now undeniably become a creative magnet – attracting many with its emphasis on work-life balance and enviable levels of sunshine.
In fact, the Metropolitan LA area now has the highest percentage of creative workers in the country, at 8.6%, according to this year’s Otis College of Art and Design study, surpassing the Big Apple at 6.4%.
One example of an LA convert is Saima Awan, Executive Editorial Producer at HECHO EN 72. So, what made this ‘NorCal’ girl choose to stay (and brave the famously bad traffic)?
“It’s a hidden treasure for culture, cuisine, neighbourhoods, and of course, the weather!” she gushes. “It's the access to the outdoors: beaches, desert, mountains, and wine country are all just a couple minutes or hours away.”
Little Black Book’s Koo Smith catches up with David&Goliath, 72andSunny, TBWA\Chiat\Day LA, and Superlounge, to shine a spotlight on the neighbourhoods that stand out most for those in agency and production.
Since production studios relocated here in the early 1900s, Culver City has long been a centre for films and TV production – earning it the nickname ‘The Heart of Screenland’. Blending charming nostalgic architecture with a trendsetting vibe, Culver City is far enough away from the hubbub to be pleasantly homely, but boasts solid transport links that take you straight to the action.
Home to Ogilvy & Mather, PRETTYBIRD, The Mill…
“Culver City seems to have become a hotspot with innovative start-ups, production, creative companies, art galleries, and some of LA’s best new restaurants,” comments David Angelo, Founder and Chairman of David&Goliath. “The newly-developed Metro station that goes to University of Southern California, Downtown, and Santa Monica makes it an attractive destination for real estate as well. The revamped Culver Hotel is a cool spot with a side patio that’s got a Paris sidewalk café vibe.”
Culver City’s Blackwelder Complex, which counts The Mill, Hungry Man, Sanctuary Content, and Jump Editorial amongst its inhabitants, is described as having “a fun creative vibe of an ad hoc studio lot” by Jordan Brady. According to Brady, whose commercial production company Superlounge’s main office is based there, the creative complex is “central to agencies in Playa Del Rey, Venice and all Westside.”
Since beginning development in 2002 as a planned community, the urban community has become favoured by tech, advertising, media, and entertainment businesses. Part of Silicon Beach, alongside Santa Monica and Venice, Playa Vista is a rising tech hub - counting Facebook, YouTube, and Microsoft amongst its own. Most recently, LMU, the University of Silicon Beach, announced plans to expand its campus into Playa Vista.
Home to Deutsch, TBWA\Chiat\Day, 72andSunny.
Drew Shields, Copywriter at TBWA\Chiat\Day LA, comments: “Leave it to the mecca of LA advertising to completely rebrand this once-barren tract of Alsace into the more attractive ‘Playa Vista’.”
Unpacking the neighbourhood’s origins as being built atop Howard Hughes’ old airfield and cheap, untilled land, Shields explains that this has put Playa Vista at the forefront of LA’s recent tech boom and its neologism, Silicon Beach.
But don’t let the eternal row of anonymous corporate building put you off, Shields advises: “They effectively mask the creativity cooked up inside, as international ad campaigns, social media deals, and production stage shoots occur daily in the otherwise calm of miles of bike paths, dog parks, and office-sponsored happy hours.”
Sitting right alongside the Pacific Ocean, the picture-perfect city’s inhabitants are treated to one of National Geographic’s top ten beaches, and mountains within easy reach. For its size, Santa Monica plays a deeply influential role in the Southern Californian culture and arts scene. It’s no wonder that, earlier this year, Snap Inc. announced plans to expand into 300,000 square feet of Santa Monica office space.
Home to Crispin Porter + Bogusky, M&C Saatchi, RPA, Rattling Stick, Hulu…
“1950s small-town USA with an entrepreneurial spirit,” is how Brady describes the area around Santa Monica Airport. A “heyday of aerospace”, these buildings are where you’ll find indie film producers, Brady’s podcast studio and edit suite, and Aero Films, to name a few.
The commercial veteran praises this area as “a secluded oasis [where] parking is plentiful…and the weather is always breezy.”
Party animals look elsewhere: “Santa Monica closes at 8pm every night, so nightlife is scarce.”
One of the oldest cities in LA, El Segundo was primarily known as an aerospace hub and refinery town for many years. Now, it’s crafting out a fresh, new reputation. Look past the charming residential suburb that makes up most of its coastline, and you’ll discover creative gold in El Segundo’s buzzing business district.
Home to David&Goliath, Mullen Lowe, Liquid…
Located right next to Los Angeles International Airport, Angelo cites this proximity as a major draw for David&Goliath being based in El Segundo: “It takes us less than five minutes to get to the gate…Okay, maybe 10. The other attraction is that it’s close to three of our main clients whose headquarters are located further south in Irvine and San Diego.”
Aside from its ideal commuter location, Angelo praises the neighbourhood’s down-to-earth vibe.
“It’s a part of LA with the least amount of pretension,” he comments. “Downtown El Segundo has a very blue collar feel and reminds me a lot of the city I grew up in outside of Oakland, California. Downtown El Segundo has a local dive bar called the Tiki Lounge which is home to the refinery locals, flight attendants, and a sprinkle of agency folks.”
Dubbed “the antithesis of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” by Forbes
, this ultra-hip Eastside neighbourhood is Instagram-ready. In terms of business, it’s beginning to establish its roots through indie projects for now. Watch this space…