Q&A: Deutsch’s Kim Getty on Los Angeles’ Growth, Creative Community and Earthquakes

And what it's like to work for apps

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In recent years, a growing number of agencies have been establishing themselves in Los Angeles. But that’s not the case for Deutsch, which planted the flag in 1995 and, as a result, has been benefiting from the wealth of talent that the city’s entertainment industry offers. Since joining the shop in 2003 from San Francisco-based Kirshenbaum Bond + Partners and ascending to president in January 2015, lifelong West Coaster Kim Getty has played an integral role in growing the agency into a creative powerhouse, counting Taco Bell, Sprint and Volkswagen as clients. In the last few months the agency has landed a few of the well-known tech giants that are based in the area, including Pandora and reportedly Uber. Getty spoke with Adweek about the move to blend Deutsch’s L.A. and New York offices, working with tech giants and the growth of the L.A.-based agency business.

Adweek: Why did Deutsch remove the distinction between the Los Angeles and New York offices?
Kim Getty: Ultimately the ability to tap into each other’s skill sets and talent, we’re stronger together was essentially the perspective. We’re going to continue to become more closely connected.

As you bring these two offices closer together, do their respective cultures mesh well?
It’s easy to think about the classic New York versus Los Angeles differences and maybe there are stereotypes to some degree. New York is known for having more of an intensity; L.A. has just as much hustle, just as much energy, but we can walk around barefoot if we want and I don’t know if I could do that in the New York office practically or sartorially. We both bring our individual spirit. The thing that the West Coast has always had is that pioneering, innovating, inventing new firsts, entrepreneurial, sort of roll-your-sleeves-up attitude and that’s a huge driver of how we think and operate here.

That seems to be getting the attention of quite a few tech clients like reportedly Uber, and Pandora, too.
We have started relationships with four digitally born businesses in the last three months. It’s premature for us to be disclosing them. Certainly soon we’ll be able to do that as work goes out into the market, but they really cover the true gamut of service offerings on the internet.

In the past, these companies have used their services to sell the apps. Why are they now more interested in traditional marketing?
A lot of these relatively new digitally born businesses are still at the early stages of their growth curve. Part of what we’re doing is looking to expand that user base and broaden the understanding of who they are and what they have to offer. Another important piece of it is that being a service is really important, but consumers are paying increased attention to who a brand is, not simply what the product or service might offer. They want to understand what the brands’ values are and who they are doing business with and so that plays an important role in us defining how these brands can play a role in a consumer’s life and provide more meaningful depth there.

Why are these clients specifically drawn to the L.A. office?
When you look at Los Angeles, it’s home to a true 360 creative community; influencers, production companies, entertainment companies, multichannel networks, new tech companies and a robust ad industry. All of these things mixed up together creates a cocktail of creativity that’s really exciting to brands, particularly new brands that are looking for what’s next and that are unencumbered by legacy systems or relationships, and they’re looking to see what is the leading edge of connecting with consumers. I think there’s not a better market in the country or in the world for doing that than Los Angeles.

What’s the status with Deutsch’s in-house production work?
We’ve been doing in-house production for years. The appetite for doing that on the part of our clients has grown as we’ve continued to invest in that resource. The capability has outgrown the space that we have here, which is why we’re launching [our production company] Steelhead next year so we can further grow that capability.

We can’t talk about East Coast versus West Coast without talking about the growth of L.A. agencies.
Deutsch has been here for [21] years. We were one of the first anchor tenants, if you will, and so for us to see now so many agencies coming to Silicon Beach, it is thrilling because it creates more community and more connections. In the late ’90s when a variety of East Coast agencies were setting up shop in San Francisco, Deutsch chose to set up shop in L.A. They saw the white space here, they saw that there wasn’t a major advertising presence here, and there’s been a commitment on Deutsch’s part to the Los Angeles market.

So, as a SoCal native, how seriously do you take earthquake preparedness?
There was a moment, this is going a few years back, when we had a fairly substantial earthquake, and I hustled outside. I avoided power lines. I had my phone with me. I was ready to go, and I was expecting 500 people to go hustling out of the building after me. I looked around at our parking lot, and it was me and two others. So I don’t know if we’ve done a great job communicating the earthquake plan to everybody, but we will.


This story first appeared in the October 10, 2016 issue of Adweek magazine.
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@KristinaMonllos kristina.monllos@adweek.com Kristina Monllos is a senior editor for Adweek.