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Author: Steve Jenkins
6th April 2011

Pro File: First Born

The long-standing independent digital geniuses at Firstborn take time out from creating definitive user experiences to make contact with Web Designer. They talk TV commercials, Flash and Flex and reveal the secrets to a long and successful tenure

Once in a lifetime

who: Firstborn
what: Leading digital agency located in NYC
where: 630 Ninth Avenue, Suite 910, New York, NY 10036

Pro File: First Born

Firstborn is an independently owned digital agency headquartered in NewYork City. The company’s made up of strategists, designers, producers andtechnologists who share a passion for creating great ideas and translating them into engaging, intelligent and innovative user experiences. Founded in 1997 in Hell’s Kitchen, NYC, Firstborn now employs over 60 people going into its fourteenth year of business. It has direct clients such as SoBe, Wrigley, JetBlue and Aflac and it also partners with well-respected advertising agencies including Team Detroit, Ogilvy and Goodby. Looking back at the origins of the agency executiveVP Kevin Arthur reveals its guiding philosophy, and takes a quick peek at the future: “The lyric, ‘same as it ever was’ from the Talking Heads song Once In A Lifetime might be an apt description of Firstborn. We’ve been in business for 14 years now and while we have a long history and have seen our industry explode from our beginnings in 1997, the principles that have guided us from day one have never changed. We have always been dedicated to coming up with great ideas, working hard and producing the best work possible.

Pro File: First Born

“Firstborn’s founder/CEO Michael Ferdman has taken the approach of a steady and measured growth over the years as we’ve gone from a handful of people
when we opened to our current staff of 60+ people. We have never ramped up in size just for the sake of becoming a bigger company but instead find the
most talented people from all over the world to add to our team-centric culture. The breadth of services we can provide continues to expand. Strategy has always
been a part of every project but now, especially with our agency-of-record clients, that offering has been augmented such that we are now creating entire brand platforms that we then build upon. “We are also now creating our own content as exemplified by the growth of our in-house video department. Video has played a key role in much of our work over the course of the last few years and in the case of SoBe we were able to leverage content created for the web into a broadcast television spot we created.

“Our client base has also evolved over the years. In the early part of the decade Firstborn specialised in work for the fashion and beauty industry. Now, our work extends across many verticals including beverages, insurance, automotive, technology and others. Up until last year, all our work has been project based but we can now count in our client roster a digital-agency-of-record relationship with SoBe Beverages for Pepsi as well as with Wrigley. Several years ago we began partnering with traditional agencies and those collaborations eventually became the bulk of our work. Now the wheel has turned such
that our business consists of mostly direct work.

“It’s very challenging to pick out one particular highlight for Firstborn. Each new project results in a new idea and new ways of using technology which always makes Firstborn an exciting place to work. In the same way, it’s difficult to predict where we’ll be in one or two years from now. Whatever we’re doing it’s sure to be as innovative and engaging as every one of the projects that come out of our door to date.” The past and present are two paradigms that Firstborn can control. The agency recently changed its domain name, and Dan LaCivita explains the thinking behind the change:  “We have wanted to buy for years and years but refuse to pay the ridiculous sum of money the people who own it are requesting. So we finally decided to compromise on It is easier to type in as a URL as well as an email address. And the whole ‘multimedia’ in the URL was dating us a little bit!”

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