We recently stumbled across an article in the New York Times looking at why, despite all their efforts, no other major US city has made much progress in establish itself as a tech alternative to San Francisco. And the very same reasons why cities like Orlando, Chicago, and Dallas continue to fall short in attracting IT talent to their respective cities are all the same reasons why San Francisco remains an international advertising Mecca. Let's look at those reasons now, shall we?
The History. We won't pretend that San Francisco has a richer or more storied advertising history than New York. It doesn't. But it's right up there. It started, believe it or not, with the California Gold Rush. It established San Francisco as the de-facto capital of the American West. And with the thousands of fortune-seekers also came businesses, hotels, bars, and of course, advertisers and marketers. History repeated itself twenty years ago with the first dot.com bubble.
Fast forward to the present day, where the Bay Area is home to some of the most exciting advertising agencies in the world. (It also helps that San Francisco is relatively close to China, the largest consumer market in the world.)
The Wealth. While housing in San Francisco is some of the most expensive in the country, it underscores the fact that many, many affluent people want to live here. Wealth tends to attract more wealth, creating a kind of continuing cycle that brings new businesses to the area—new businesses that need to advertise and look to local agencies for help.
The Talent. Throw a rock from downtown San Francisco and you'll hit some of the best institutions of higher learning in the world: Stanford, UC Berkeley, SF State, and so on. The region provides local advertising firms with a limitless pipeline of young, hungry talent.
The Weather. If you sometimes wonder why certain Midwest or Northeastern cities haven't become magnets for advertising professionals—or any other professionals, for that matter—perhaps you've never been to the Midwest or the Northeast between November in March. It's just not fun. San Franciscans are more than happy to pay extra for quality of life, and nothing Milwaukee, Buffalo, or Indianapolis can do—beyond speeding up global warming—can change that.
At the end of the day, it isn't one specific thing that makes San Francisco an advertising mecca. After all, cities like Chicago have a rich history, Miami has nice weather, and hundreds of US cities have access to world-class universities. Rather, it's the confluence of these things—history, talent, weather, and that good old fashioned California magic—that makes San Francisco the preeminent destination for advertising professionals around the world.
What do you think? What makes San Francisco such a magnet for advertising professionals?