Five months ago, Steve Taylor, a copywriter who had been living his advertising dreams in New York, decided to give up the day job to trek across the USA and spend one month at a time at a variety of creative agencies. The Drum caught up with Taylor for the next instalment of our Great Agency Adventure Q&As after he finished his month-long stint at BooneOakley, a creative agency founded in Charlotte, NC.
What were your first impressions of BooneOakley?
Everyone at the agency was really laid back and there was just a fun and relaxing vibe that carried through the entire office. From the moment I walked through the door, everyone was so warm and welcoming. They all went well out of their way to make sure I was comfortable. I felt like a part of their family very quickly. Before arriving, I already knew they did great work and I’m glad to know the people, themselves, are equally as wonderful.
And Charlotte, NC – what’s the creative scene like there?
Throughout the city, there are these vastly different pockets of creative types. A lot of young creatives have taken up residency in a neighborhood known as NoDa, which is just slightly northeast of the Uptown area. It’s this cool little area that feels like a condensed version of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, NY. It’s where you’ll find a lot of great eateries, tattoo shops and craft beer shops. If you head into Uptown, you’ll find the more “traditional” arts area, The Levine Center for the Arts. It’s filled with a lot of outdoor sculptures and is home to several of the cities museums. I wouldn’t say I saw as much art around the city, as I did in places like Philly or NYC, but Charlotte is on an upswing and I’m sure their arts will follow suit.
(Getting familiar with a map of Charlotte)So describe the first day, what were you given to do?
I actually spent a majority of my first day chatting with co-workers. Everyone seemed very interested in my project and I was more than happy to discuss it with them. Everyone went well out of their way to give me great recommendations for restaurants and bars (many of which I visited in my time there). It was a sign of what was to come, as their hospitality never dwindled from day one.What was the culture like at the agency?I think I can sum it up in two words — relaxed and highly-creative. As with all the agencies I’ve visited so far, it just felt like a big, happy family.What was the biggest challenge you faced?
Oh hands down it was transportation. The AirBnB I stayed at was located in the suburbs and when you come that with a not-so-vast public transit system, it didn’t bode well for my feet. By the end of the month, I think I walked well over 80 miles. My host was kind enough to let me borrow his bike to get to/from work but the rest of the time I just walked everywhere. It’s a great way to see the city that’s for sure. Although it isn’t the most efficient method of getting around, I plan on adopting it going forward as it’s the best way to find your way around.
(BooneOakley Offices)Did you have any slip ups, or do anything to piss off the boss?
Not that I’m aware of. There was a day when I walked to work in the rain, but I think that’s about it. For the most part, I’d say the month went rather smoothly.What are the big lessons you will you be taking with you?
I think the biggest one is that you don’t always have to be stressed out at work. BooneOakley is filled with hardworking, dedicated and talented individuals, yet I never saw them sweat over the work. They always managed to keep their cool, no matter what the day threw at them. I’m not sure if it’s yoga or beer, but I certainly picked up a newfound calm while working with them.What were the agency’s parting words to you?
As a testament to their consistent hospitality, everyone asked that I come visit again real soon. Since my brother just relocated back to the area, I wouldn’t be surprised if I dropped by to say hello when the project is over.
(Taco Friday at BooneOakley)How does it compare with the other agencies you’ve visited?
This was the first agency that wasn’t located in the downtown area of their city. They’re located just south of it in fact. So, I think that made a big difference and may play apart in their ability to remain so calm under pressure. Things were just less hectic overall, yet the quality of their work never suffered. I know I’m probably repeating myself over and over, but everyone there was just so relaxed, yet so creative.Describe your overall experience in three words?
Relaxed. Encouraging. Powerful.
(Charlotte, NC)Where are you off to next?
Next stop is Memphis, TN. I detoured to New Orleans for a night, because of how the trains run, but after that it’s off to the home of Elvis. This is the latest Q&A in a series with Steve Taylor. Every month The Drum will catch up with him to find how where he has been, where he is going, and how he is coping with life on the road. But if you can't wait until then you can follow @zombieparmesan or The Great Agency Adventure blog.