Level 2 Visit to New York

This year's trip saw Level 2 visit some of the most prolific advertising agencies in New York city.

During the week we were fortunate enough to visit McCann, Barbarian Group, Saatchi's, Wieden + Kennedy and BBH.  

Here are a few pictures from our epic adventure along with words from some of the students who travelled with us to New York.

[Matt Holmes] The first agency visit of the week was upon us. At ten on Tuesday morning, we all took a stroll down third avenue heading for McCann NY. McCann are an agency who look at things differently, and with their philosophy of a ‘Truth Well Told’, aim to really portray human truths well in their ads. 

To kick off, we had a tour around their production department ‘Craft’ where we gained an insight into editing, 2D and 3D animation, and sound recording. 

It’s one of the great things about McCann, that rather than externally sourcing production, they can now do most in-house (or large office building!) We had a great talk from the print department whilst sipping our free iced water, looking into ‘print mechanicals’ and how ads make it to press, sometimes going through tens of copies before the final. 

Finally, we were shown the latest showreel by one of the creative directors. McCann have some huge clients. Their latest work for Jose Cuervo Tequila saw them freeze a margarita in space for ‘Happy Margarita Day’, which didn’t actually taste great.. but nevertheless, so cool (pun may be intended). Their ‘I am Generation Image’ campaign for Nikon proved a huge success, focusing on real-life stories and capturing them in the best way possible. And in New York style, creating a real life restaurant seating thirty seven diners, up in the air in Times Square for their MasterCard ‘Priceless’ campaign. 

McCann are a truly forward thinking agency, with their interior to match. Each floor different, yet even better than the last – and the view, it saved us having to go up the Empire State for sure!

[Abbie Williams] The Barbarian Group was the second advertising agency that we visited whilst in New York. 

This agency focuses more on the digital and interactive side of advertising, which is openly shown on their website stating ‘We make stuff the Internet loves’. The third years who visited this agency last year, told us about how interesting the layout of the agency is so we were all excited to see it for ourselves. As we walked into the reception, we were warmly greeted. 

Whilst walking past reception and into the main space, the first thing we all laid our eyes on was the amazing, wavy, wooden desk! The famous desk that we had heard so much about! The reason behind the wavy desk and big open space is so that the agency as a whole can work as one, with no division. In their words ‘4,400 square feet of undulating, unbroken awesomeness to keep people and ideas flowing.’ I thought that this was such a lovely feature of the agency; the fact that everybody knows everyone, and everybody is aware of what’s going on in the agency. 

Whilst showing us around the main space, they told us about the agency and it’s clients. The Barbarian Group has clients such as Pepsi, Bacardi, Samsung and Virgin, which is pretty amazing!!! Once we had a tour of the agency, we were then able to ask questions, which we all found very helpful as they gave us some great responses. 

The Barbarian Group definitely came across as a fun, enthusiastic and hard-working agency.

[Matt Holmes] The following afternoon – I say afternoon, due to a major blueberry pancake overload at breakfast, we all convened outside the ultra-shiny agency that is Saatchi&Saatchi NY. 

With a glossy lift ride, we soon reached the eighteenth floor where we stepped out into a wonderland of creativity. The reception was bright, and yet again, the view was incredible looking right down Madison Avenue. 

Take ten minutes later once we’d all snapped away at the breathtaking views, we were met by Beth. A super cool, and hilarious, creative manager at Saatchi. Moving on into a huge meeting room, we got the chance to listen to Beth and her journey into the industry, as well as a fantastic creative team and social media creative. 

The guys here were hilarious, and after firing at them with tens of questions, I think everyone including myself decided on moving to New York. Saatchi&Saatchi have some major clients, and most recently produced work for Cheerios, and the new Apple Pay on the iPhone 6. It was an exciting, and cheek-hurting visit from all the laughing, but with an ear-popping lift ride back downstairs, we carried on exploring the city for the rest of the day. And in true American style, a coke float was the only way to go next.

A room with a view indeed
The agency visits not only provided a fantastic insight into what advertising is like across the pond, but inspired every single one of us even more to pursue our goals. New York City is a place where the impossible is possible, and over the week we learnt one major thing. Jump right in.

[Abbie Williams] We previously visited Wieden + Kennedy’s London office in November last year, and I think I can speak on behalf of all of us when I say that we absolutely loved it, therefore we were all so excited to see the New York office! As we walked into the reception, we first saw the modernly designed stairs that followed the unique and quirky style that the London office also has. 

Ready and waiting for the creatives!

The pillars in the room were decorated by different artists and there were random sofa areas around the agency that people could go to when they needed to escape from the work for a little while. Wieden + Kennedy’s relaxed ethos makes the agency stand out from others, yet they still remain hard-working and produce incredible, award-winning ads! Whilst at the agency, we were able to have a Q&A with two creatives called Jed and Eric. 

Very excited at Wieden+Kennedy's now to tackle those stairs!
They initially showed us some work that they have been a part of. Eric worked with Heineken on the stunt ‘Departure Roulette’ which we all found ourselves talking and laughing about long after, and Eric worked on Nike Freeze Frame experience which was a very successful stunt that was done in Venice Beach, California to promote its new Jordan brand trainers - which was also so inspiring. I definitely recommend you look them up on YouTube! 

Pointing to the future - mostly

The questions they answered for us definitely helped us gain more knowledge about the industry and Wieden + Kennedy as an agency. Visiting the New York office confirmed to us that our love for Wieden + Kennedy was not just in London, but New York too. What an agency! 

[Charlotte Robins] Our final visit was at the legendary BBH. Being one of the biggest and most famous agencies in the world it was incredibly exciting knowing we were getting a chance to meet some of the people who are a part of it.

We sadly couldn’t have much of a tour, but were given an in depth question and answer session with a creative and strategist. We don’t often get to meet people from other sections of agencies, so getting to hear the strategist and creative at the same time was brilliant because it gave a much bigger picture of how an agency works, and made the finished works even more interesting to see.

Kelly Lane at BBH

They were straight up and funny. We were able to ask riskier questions, and they were great, answering everything in detail. Their work is has a high quality finish and showed a wide range of styles, which meant a wide range of skills had been required. The vibe was quite different to other agencies we’d been to; it felt slightly more formal, yet the works maintained a high level of creative flare; being funny, moving, tense and engaging. These creatives meant business, and were clearly hard working and dedicated people.


This trip has been one of the best experiences of my life, and I know that’s true for the rest of the year group too. Seeing the agencies first hand gave us a real sense of how varied agencies can be, and how even if you love their work, you may not want to work for them. We learnt as much about the agencies as we learnt about ourselves.

Though many agencies are different, at the end of the trip one thing they had all said is ‘the most important thing to have in this industry is drive.’
The agencies confirmed that we’ve got to grab this industry by the horns if we want to get a seat - or a Pilates ball to sit on. The trip became invaluable because it was inspiring, and inspiration is what you need to stay driven.
Look out New York. We’re coming for you!

Barbarian Group

As an extra treat Matt Holmes made a record of this years trip for your viewing pleasure . Enjoy!