Agency Highlight of the Week: GSD&M

By: Samantha Branson

In 1971, four University of Texas graduates, Roy Spence, Judy Trabulsi, Tim McClure and Steve Gurasich, decided they wanted three things: to stay together, remain in Austin, and make a difference.  An advertising agency seemed like the best idea and after switching between calling the agency Media 70 and Idea City, the founders settled on an acronym formed using their names, and thus GSD&M was born. Today, the full-service advertising agency employs over 500 Mexican food-eating, ping-pong playing, dog lovers that believe in the core values of restlessness, curiosity, and winning.

The building that houses GSD&M is located in the heart of Austin on West 6th Street. Our tour guide, HR Generalist & Intern Program Manager Lauren Kelly, started the tour in the lobby with a neon Bevo art fixture hanging over the front entrance given to the agency by Evan Boyles, the original neon artist, showing just how much UT pride the agency has. Our attention was then brought to the front desk that had been covered in cute pictures of dogs and cats. Lauren explained that before each meeting with a client, the agency gets “swagged out” in their company’s advertising. Just one way the agency welcomes its clients and makes them feel at home.

Unlike many advertising companies, GSD&M’s building was anything but boring. Throughout the building you can find art installations like the one found in the rotunda named “String Theory.” According to Lauren the “building is like a canvas.” The further into the tour, the more apparent it became that the environment at GSD&M is meant to spur creativity. Employees could bring their dogs to work and there was a game room, theatre room, and vending machines with $0.25 beer. The place seemed more like a fun house than a top-ranked advertising agency.

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Even the offices for major accounts at GSD&M are out of the ordinary. The Southwest Airlines wing has huge airplane props from previously filmed commercials and model airplanes of the famous Shamu-painted airplanes that were the result of a collaboration between two of the agency’s bigger clients: Southwest Airlines and Seaworld. The Goodyear account room features a tire swing in the middle of the room. Some other big names the agency boasts are Walgreens (which is their largest account), AT&T, and Chipotle. Throughout the account wing, inspirational phrases can be found on plagues on the wall like this one, “Ideas will be the currency of the 21st century,” reinforcing the positive, inventive atmosphere found at GSD&M.

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PRSSA members Alyssa, Samantha and Michelle posing on the Goodyear office’s tire swing on Oct. 31, 2014.

The names for the rooms even showcase the creativity of the people employed at GSD&M. Clients are given pitches from the agency in rooms named Alpha and Omega (with tons of food, of course). Other rooms found in the building are the “Cheesegrater conference room,” “Sky Box conference room,” and the “Inside Out room,” which actually isn’t a room but a balcony. The building also boasts a beautiful English-style courtyard where the agency has artists perform live music for the employees (because you can’t be housed in Austin without being connected to the live music scene). If you are more of a PR person, don’t worry. The agency also has a media section with a full house media team and a communications team.

If you wish to intern/work for GSD&M, they have an intern program for juniors and seniors. Internship experience is required and you must be able to work 20 hours a week. GSD&M is super competitive, but you do real work and the internships are paid. If you meet these requirements and this agency sounds like a fun place to work, go to www.gsdm.com to start your online profile today.image1

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