“Does It Mean Zip” – Interview with the Los Angeles Business Journal


My interview with Los Angeles Business Journal was published earlier last week titled “Does It Mean Zip”, a follow-up to our recent press. It was a great conversation with Joel Russell where I shared my vision of why I started the agency and decided to call Pasadena our new home, instead of going along with moving to the Westside Los Angeles where most agencies are.

Ming Chan is a rebel with an unusual cause: He wants to challenge the premise that ad agencies must be on the Westside. Chan founded his digital agency, named The1stMovement, in Pasadena to set himself apart – literally.

“We want to be different,” Chan said. “And I guess I’m a little bit rebellious.”

He picked Pasadena partly because it is close to his home but mainly because Chan believes the future of advertising lies in technology more than creativity. And Pasadena is more tech-friendly, being the home of Caltech and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Clients of The1stMovement include tech giants Cisco and Adobe.

“We want to be one of the first technology-led agencies,” he told the Business Journal.

The clustering of ad agencies has a long history – just look at Madison Avenue in New York. In Los Angeles, the large agencies started on the Miracle Mile, then moved to Century City and then Santa Monica. In 1999, Chiat/Day moved to Playa del Rey, inspiring a stampede south into El Segundo and even Torrance.

There’s a reason for such clustering, said Eric Johnson, president of ad agency Ignited, which is in El Segundo, and co-president of trade group ThinkLA.

Geography “is not necessarily a factor for pitching business, but for attracting talent, proximity to other agencies does matter,” Johnson said.

Chan admitted that recruiting ad execs to the Pasadena office is sometimes challenging.The1stMovement has 26 (35 now and counting) employees.

“It’s hard to recruit top talent because most of them are on the Westside,” he acknowledged. “We are throwing a curveball at the industry.”

You can read the full interview here.

Ming Chan

As founded and CEO of The1stMovement, Ming was named as one of the "Top 10 Asian Entrepreneurs" by Inc. Magazine, and has led the agency to numerous accolades including 3-time Inc. 500 "Fastest Growing Private Companies in America", 3-time "Best Places to work in LA", and 5000% growth in 5 years with his passion for innovation and company culture. Follow @mingAtT1M