Goodby Silverstein & Partners is one of *the* iconic San Francisco advertising agencies. But it also has an East Coast outpost in New York and it’s been on a bit of a role, tripling in size and outgrowing two office spaces over the course of the pandemic.
GS&P New York is creatively run by executive creative directors Danny Gonzalez and David Suarez, who have been creative partners for 17 years. Since joining GS&P seven years ago, the two have led creative for Credit Karma, PayPal, StubHub, Xfinity, NFL Media and Liberty Mutual Insurance, among other things. Over the past few years, along with a small leadership group, they’ve spearheaded the launch and growth of the New York office.
LBB’s Addison Capper caught up with them to find out more.
LBB> Goodby Silverstein New York has tripled in size over the course of the pandemic. Firstly, congrats! Secondly, tell us a bit more about that. What has driven the growth?
Danny> There’ve been a lot of factors. We wanted to grow our footprint out here and tap into the NY talent pool. That coincided with a few key folks from the SF office deciding they wanted to move east, and a renewed promise to offer great office snacks. When word got out about our dried mango selection, it was hard to keep our numbers down.
LBB> If at all, how did the pandemic shape that growth?
Danny> I think remote work levelled the playing field a bit for us in NY. We share clients and resources with SF, but it was sometimes hard to be so far away from the agency’s nucleus. When everyone became a face on a screen overnight, it made people’s actual location a little less important. Even with recent returns to the offices, we feel a lot more connected to SF now.
LBB> Can you tell us a bit about the makeup of the office? How big is it now? What kind of work do you do well?
Danny> We’re 33 strong right now, and while we started a little top-heavy seniority wise, we’re beginning to fill out a little more naturally now. Our office has a sharp wit and a healthy scepticism about the industry’s standard way of doing things. Our clients’ needs and personalities dictate the tone of the work we put out, but we’re most in our wheelhouse when we poke at the establishment and have some fun subverting expectations.
LBB> What makes the NY office unique compared to the SF HQ?
David> Our size allows us to behave differently and we’re probably a little less attached to the ways things have been done in the past because we just haven’t been around very long.
LBB> How do you work with the SF office? Is it quite a collaborative relationship?
David> The relationship is very collaborative, and we’re committed to keeping a bicoastal model where we continue to share people, clients, and values. As we grow, we’ll inevitably have more things to offer locally, but keeping teams on both coasts engaged helps us maintain that day-to-day working relationship that keeps us close.
LBB> I think that the NY and SF ad industries are really quite different beasts. SF feels really driven by Silicon Valley, both in the work that comes out of it but also in how agencies operate internally and in terms of how they work with clients. NYC obviously has huge, global businesses and is just a much older, more established market. With that in mind, do you think that GSP's SF heritage and way of working is beneficial in a market like NY? Or does it not factor in so much?
David> GS&P has a unique personality and a commitment to how it treats people. That all starts at the top with Rich [Silverstein] and Jeff [Goodby], and that’s something we really want to carry over here in NY. We’re influenced by the flavour and hustle that make NY and its ad culture so dynamic, but want to maintain the people-first culture we inherited from SF.
LBB> It's a tough time to be attracting talent. How have you managed that over the course of this growth period? Where have you mostly been hiring from and what type of person do you generally look for?
Danny> We already discussed the dried mango selection but we also had the advantage of being able to offer something new (GS&P but in NY). We’ve had people join from all over, but one constant we’ve found is that this group really seems to enjoy working together and learning from one another. The last two years have robbed us of a lot of the comradery that makes agency life so fun. And even though we’re coming in a little less frequently and a lot less formally, it’s great to see people bonding in-person again and looking out for one another.
LBB> Which projects over the course of this growth period are you most proud of and why?
David> We’re always really cautious about taking credit for things here in NY because all of our work is shared across coasts. That being said, we collaborated with Marvel Studios to create a print edition of the famous Daily Bugle from Spiderman
with a Liberty Mutual spin about all the damage caused by the epic fight scenes in the movie. We had a team create an AR music video and an exclusive recording with Megan Thee Stallion for Doritos. And there’s a new campaign for Liberty Mutual’s Home Insurance that is set to go out soon that pokes fun at the industry in an interesting way.
LBB> What does the rest of 2022 hold in store for GSP NY?
David> We have a few projects in the hopper for existing clients and a couple of social issues we’d like to help shed some light on, but we’re also looking forward to pitching some new business in 2022 and beyond.
LBB> And thinking further into the future, what would you like the agency to become?
David> We’d love this office to be a place where people can do the best work of their lives while maintaining a life outside of work. With good people, good client relationships, and a bit of luck, we think we can pull that off.
LBB> Any parting thoughts?
David> If you haven’t seen it, Frasier season one is available on Netflix. There are some hiccups along the way, but overall the writing holds up.