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New York has a new neighbour as multicultural ad agency Commonground expands into new Chelsea office

New York’s Chelsea neigh­bor­hood is to have a new res­i­dent in the form of fast-ris­ing Chica­go-head­quar­tered ad agency Com­mon­ground. Art direc­tors and account man­agers liv­ing and work­ing in New York may well be curi­ous to know a lit­tle more about their new neigh­bor, as may plen­ty of oth­ers, so here’s a brief rundown.

As stat­ed on its web­site, the agency’s phi­los­o­phy, devel­oped by co-founders Sher­man Wright and Ahmad Islam, reads like this:

“Our cross-con­sumer phi­los­o­phy inspires our think­ing and cre­ativ­i­ty by focus­ing our atten­tion on Cel­e­brat­ed Dif­fer­ences, those fac­tors that are in the DNA of a spe­cif­ic cul­ture and make the dif­fer­ence between sim­ply hear­ing your mes­sage ver­sus estab­lish­ing a mean­ing­ful emo­tion­al con­nec­tion root­ed in com­pelling insights, while when nec­es­sary iden­ti­fy­ing and tap­ping Shared Con­nec­tions, those insights based on human needs that are typ­i­cal­ly con­sis­tent across multiple.”

The cul­tur­al­ly aware art direc­tor?

Cre­ativ­i­ty, as most job­bing art direc­tors would con­cede, doesn’t exist in a cul­ture-free vac­u­um; it’s sit­u­at­ed, root­ed in cul­ture and time. Com­mon­ground prides itself on iden­ti­fy­ing com­mon­al­i­ties between cul­tur­al groups while lever­ag­ing the dif­fer­ences cel­e­brat­ed with­in each.

The agency’s client base has been steadi­ly grow­ing, and includes big names like Coors Lite, Coca Cola, Ver­i­zon, Muller Lite and Nis­san, but the growth has been espe­cial­ly rapid over that last cou­ple of years. It bagged the cov­et­ed sta­tus of Illi­nois Lot­tery agency of record after being asked by Lot­tery Direc­tor Michael Jones, at very short notice, to pro­duce a TV spot for the Power­ball game. Its ad, which fea­tured a vast red ball rolling its way through Illi­nois, was a big hit, not just amongst view­ers but with the Lot­tery exec­u­tives, too.

Expan­sion, tal­ent and landscapes

The move to New York, say Wright and Islam, grants them access to a new tal­ent pool as well as the city’s infa­mous land­scapes, and it clear­ly reflects the agency’s expand­ing client base (it was retained by Ver­i­zon as agency of record in July this year).

As Islam puts it, “Over the past 10 years, we’ve cre­at­ed a cul­ture at Com­mon­ground where peo­ple enjoy com­ing to work and are proud of the prod­uct we are putting out. We ful­ly intend for our New York out­post to reflect those same values.”

The New York team will num­ber 15 to begin with.

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