Inside the agency: McKinney NY reboots with new business and a killer view

The coolest part of McKinney’s two-floor downtown Manhattan space is the window that looks out into North Carolina.

That’s not an exaggeration: This Cheil-owned agency is so serious about its “one agency, two doors” philosophy that it has installed a giant screen in its Soho headquarters that looks into its Durham office. A webcam, a microphone and speakers connect the two. Any time people pass by either screen, they stop and chat with each other.

This is how the NYC and Durham offices keep in touch. #insidetheagency

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“This is our way of keeping the two offices together,” said Adam Levine, chief marketing officer.

McKinney, which opened in New York a couple of years ago, is “re-opening,” according to Levine, who said a refurbished new space is a “coming out party” for the agency. It’s a nice time for the New York outpost to make that happen — while things were a bit leaner when the shop first opened in 2013, the reboot seems to be doing the trick, with the agency picking up new business from Crocs and Mentos in the last six months.

There are 41 full-time employees in New York, but Levine said there is room to expand. Opening a shop in New York City is hard in any business, but more so in agency land, where there’s stiff competition from stalwart New York-bred companies and a crowded marketplace. High rents don’t help either. “Anyone who starts any business in New York, whether an agency or a Subway franchise has a tough time,” said Levine. “The hardest part is to just focus on getting great work.”

NYC @McKinney employees keep their belongings in these lockers so desks can be clutter free. #insidetheagency

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McKinney never felt like it “had to” open in New York, said Levine. “New York needs another ad agency like another $5 coffee store.”

It’s not a client-led decision to build a New York shop, either. Rather, the agency found that it was increasingly important that they be part of a larger community. “Advertising Week is here; the media is here,” said Levine. “It’s just about being part of the industry.”

The talent is also part of the draw. In Durham, McKinney can tap young people coming out of the University of North Carolina — lots of staffers are in their first jobs at McKinney. But in New York, there are more digital people and more experienced people to pick from, said Levine. To keep those staffers coming, the agency built out the second floor of its office recently.

Among the highlights is a decidedly retro feel, due to old-school red lockers where employees can stash personal stuff so their desks aren’t too cluttered. Lots of floor-to-ceiling windows adorn the light-filled office, which also has a bookcase filled with pictures taken by staffers of stuff they care about.

What’s an office without a spiral staircase and games? #insidetheagency

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A wall of photos taken by @McKinney staffers. #insidetheagency

A photo posted by Digiday (@digiday) on

Comfy bleacher seats to work and chill. #insidetheagency

A photo posted by Digiday (@digiday) on

Photos and videos by Hannah Yi

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