Love thy enemy.

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Is it smart business to like your competition? When I worked in Atlanta there was a handful of us who worked hard to make Atlanta a city know for great advertising. We tried to follow the example of agencies in cities like Minneapolis who obviously cared about one another’s success. They knew each agency's success would ultimately help their own. Many of us had experienced this good neighbor policy and knew it was a critical element if we were to succeed.

Back then I remember hearing a speech given by a well-known CD who was visiting Atlanta. He answered a question about why he thought his city had become regarded as a leader in the advertising industry. One of the things he said was that the agencies in his city tried to help one another and applauded one another’s success. I thought the fact that the CD even cared about another local agency’s success showed a great deal of foresight. He believed his agency’s success was dependent in part upon his competition’s success. The wisdom in this philosophy seems ridiculously obvious. But I’m afraid it is lost on too many agencies that don’t see that a neighborly attitude is a catalyst to gaining our industry’s respect.

I have had a couple of people come to work for me who were told horror stories about what it would be like to work for us. These imaginative evaluations would be humorous if they were not disparaging. I’m not discouraged by this occasional display of insecurity because most of the people I have met in my local ad community are extremely supportive of our efforts. They value our goal to do work at the highest level. They want our support also and they will surely have it.

Sure small ad communities are made up of mostly small agencies. But that doesn’t mean we all think small. Our hope is built on the history of cities we think of as our industry leaders today. Minneapolis, San Francisco, Portland all have ad agencies that respect and even like one another. Many of the industry’s greatest agencies live in small cities. I think most of them would agree that the good will of their local competition had a part in their ultimate success.
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