Picture this: you’ve got a brand new job as a business development manager at a digital agency and you’re rearing to go. But while you’re keen to start driving those online advertising sales, you feel just a bit like the new kid arriving at school, worried about eating lunch on your own. If you landed your job at New York digital advertising agency Firstborn, that feeling won’t last long as the firm goes out of its way to welcome newcomers.
Founded by Michael Ferdman (now its CEO) back in 1997, Firstborn has chalked up an impressive list of clients over the years, amongst them superstar celebrities like Madonna, for whom it made a digital version of her album “Music”. Currently, the roster includes big names like Under Armour, Mountain Dew and Aflac, and a few weeks back it created a content-driven website for A‑list fashion designer Tory Burch (the site streamed the New York Fashion Week event).
Ferdman decided to sell the company to Dentsu in 2011, and moved it and its 90 staff to the majestic AT&T building in lower Manhattan, where it shares studio space with its New York digital neighbor, 360i.
The welcoming atmosphere is evident from what the agency’s president, Dan LaCivita, describes as the firm’s “family photos” adorning the walls, most of them buoyantly happy snaps of employees enjoying yearly holiday parties at Peter Luger Steakhouse or skating on ice.
Describing the welcoming approach to newcomers, LaCivita says:
“If you’re a newly hired designer, your creative director will hand-write you a postcard and send it in the mail. And on that postcard is a website that’s integrated with Google Maps that’s sort of like a ‘Welcome to New York City’ map. And we include our favorite Firstborn spots, so that people already feel included within the culture when they get here.”
Egos are to be left at the door in this agency. As LaCivita puts it:
“There’s a no-diva policy here. It’s obvious within the first week, and there’s absolutely no room for it here. The people who’ve been most successful here have a little bit of that entrepreneurial spirit in them. Even though we’ve been around for 17 years, it’s very much a self-starter place. There’s an incredible amount of support, and very little hand-holding.”