Austin is one of several small towns that are home to big-time
marketing companies. Ad Age recently caught up with agency and
company execs to learn the upsides and downsides of working for
companies located off the beaten path.
These are places in which a single corporation dominates to the
degree that it is often inescapable. In Battle Creek, Mich., for
instance, Kellogg Co. fills
the air. "You literally can smell the corn flakes cooking," said
Graham Woodall, exex VP-creative director at Leo Burnett, Chicago,
Kellogg's creative agency. He added: "It is a really nice
Once a week, Mr. Woodhall makes the 168-mile car ride from
Chicago to Battle Creek, or Cereal City, as it's known. The
agency's hotel of choice is a Radisson 20 miles away in Kalamazoo,
rather than the McCamly Plaza Hotel in Battle Creek that is across
the street from Kellogg's headquarters. "The last guy that stayed
there, we haven't seen him since he checked in," Mr. Woodhall
Realistically, the sulfurous smell of paper-making isn't nearly
as pleasant as toasting corn flakes. Kimberly-Clark Corp.'s North
American headquarters, in Neenah, Wis., is smack dab in the middle
of what's sometimes called "Paper Valley."
Despite the image of belching smokestacks that conjures up,
Neenah is quite bucolic, with one building on the corporate campus
that houses a state-of-the-art virtual reality lab reminiscent of a
hunting lodge from the outside.
For anglers, or any hardy agency folks who are interested,
Kimberly-Clark also has an ice-fishing shack on Lake Neenah near
the headquarters. For bicyclists, an extensive network of trails in
the area allow many of the 4,000 employees to bike to work.
If you happen to miss the last connecting flight from Chicago or
Milwaukee to Outagamie County Regional Airport near K-C
headquarters, that can mean a multi-hour drive. (K-C at one point
owned Midwest Airlines to help ensure the area had flights. That's
now part of Frontier Airlines, which still serves the airport).
"It's a beautiful area," said Ken Smalling, VP-global
communications for K-C, based in Irving, Texas, but a frequent
traveler to Neenah. "If you live in Dallas-Fort Worth in the
summertime and get to go there and see all the lush greenery and
water, it's a nice change. It's a quaint small town, but it's got a
lot of neat things."
Perhaps no other town is as closely linked to a company than
Hershey, Pa. After all,
Milton Hershey created the town just as he was building his
chocolate empire in the early 1900s. "Unlike other industrialists
of his time, Hershey avoided building a faceless company town with
row houses. He wanted a "real home town, with tree-lined streets,
single- and two-family brick houses and manicured lawns," according
to the the city's website, hersheypa.com.