A Mile High But Not Very Deep

“I have seen amazingly creative people come to Denver and begin to coast, and then sink like a stone.” – Felix
Every once in a while, Felix at The Denver Egotist likes to really get going on the issues of the day. For some creatives working in Denver’s agency scene, that means trying to measure up to the big boys on the coasts. I worked in Denver twice, so I know the feeling. Here are some of Felix’s thoughts on the matter:

…many creatives I talk to think that CP&B is an impossible standard to hold yourself up to. I disagree. Most of us don’t have their budgets or blue-chip clients, but CP&B prides itself on innovation and lateral thinking. The recent Whopper Sacrifice idea was cheap and effective, and could have been done for anyone from Chipotle to Daz Bog (indeed, I would sacrifice most of my Facebook friends for a big, fat Chipotle burrito.) But all too often, it’s a lot easier to kick back, go home at 5pm and collect a paycheck.
Here at The Denver Egotist, we occasionally marvel at some of the work produced by the likes of TDA and Sukle; but being great in Denver is not the same as being great nationwide. Indeed, some of TDA’s best work may not even make the cut on some of the reels of big NY and London agencies.

Of course, what Felix points to is not a problem exclusive to Denver. Salt Lake could say the same, or Atlanta. And let’s not forget that there are plenty of slackers and dumb asses in high positions in New York, London, Chicago and LA. At the same time, I agree with Felix’s general premise that one is impacted by their environment. There are different standards and work habits, from agency to agency and city to city.
When my friends at Integer used to debate me about making Denver a creative hotspot, the conversations invariably turned to this central fact–it’s not about the agencies, it’s about the clients who think they need to leave Denver to find the quality of work they’re looking for. Take Coors, the account we all worked on. Coors goes outside Denver for its TV work, but is that really necessary? No. Integer, and any of the best shops in Denver are perfectly equipped to make TV for Coors.
The truth is the responsibility is a shared one. For a city to rise to creative prominence, progressive clients and talented agency people in that city need to dance. To use Coors as the example, the beer guys think there’s a prettier dance partner in Chicago, or wherever. Someone in Denver needs to convince them otherwise. Part of doing so is hard work, no doubt about it. But there’s another factor in being sexy that is totally intangible. It can’t be manufactured. It just has to be.



About David Burn

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. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.