Hourly Rates To Match The Colossal Egos

According to Ad Age, the 4As conducted a compensation study at more than 230 marketing agencies of varying sizes, geographies and specialties.
A chief creative based in the New York Metro area billed an average of $751 an hour last year — more than double what a chief creative in other parts of the Eastern U.S. or in the South billed, at $319 an hour. In the central part of the country, a head creative billed an average of $420 an hour, and in the West, an average of $461.
So what conclusions might one draw from this data? One might be that ad people are highly paid. We are highly paid because there’s a lot on the line and ideas (and execution of those ideas across countless media) don’t come cheap, nor should they.
Another conclusion that’s easy to draw is brands interested in “value” need to be working with agencies in the South, Midwest and West.

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. Do clients pay more for NYC advertising because it’s better or because it’s in NYC? It would be interesting to see a cost-benefit analysis of work done in NYC vs. work done in other markets.

  2. The funny thing about these numbers is many of the best creative people do not work in NYC today. Yes, once upon a time, they did. And yes, there’s a cadre of emerging NYC shops like Strawberry Frog, Naked, etc. But if I was a client, I’d put my money on the big idea people in Boulder/Miami, San Francisco, Austin, Portland, Minneapolis, and so on.

  3. Around the time that I was in ad school in 2000-2001, it seemed there was a recognition that Mad Ave was not the end-all, be-all. Boutiques and smaller-market shops were making a lot of noise, and clients were listening.
    It seems like a swing back, perceptually, to NYC started happening after that. I think part of the reason is that clients want to consolidate and look like they are thinking “globally” and, fairly or not, that makes them gravitate towards manhattan.

  4. Sure. Heineken did that and passed on Crispin because of it. Can you imagine? I can’t. And if I was Heineken, I certainly wouldn’t want CP+B working on Stella Artois, or any other beer brand for that matter. But hey, that’s Manhattan-centric thinking for you. Short sighted in the extreme.