Candice Simons // 32
President and CEO // Brooklyn Outdoor, Detroit // Employees: 6 // Revenue: $6M
De Paul University
After working in the outdoor advertising industry in Chicago for 10 years, Candice Simons set out to explore opportunities in New York City. She soon had several job offers, but also faced a dilemma. “One path was leading me to these really amazing companies where I could have flourished, but I opted to take a chance and start my own company,” the Northville native recalls. “I felt that Detroit was pulling me back to bring my expertise here.” Simons launched Brooklyn Outdoor in 2013, the only nationally recognized outdoor advertising company based in Michigan.
The self-funded firm began by representing independent “out-of-home” vendors and pairing them with advertisers and agencies. With satellite offices in New York and Los Angeles, Brooklyn Outdoor today owns or leases 1-million placements — billboards, wallscapes, buses, and taxis — throughout the country, including advertisements at Chicago’s Wrigley Field and on the Las Vegas strip. Ninety-five percent of the firm’s business comes from national clients like General Motors Co., T-Mobile, and Red Bull. To set her company apart from its larger competitors, Simons emphasizes personal attention. “We really have become a strong option for people who want a more tailored proposal,” she says. “When we do client pitches, we go the extra mile to present something that’s going to be impactful and right for the brand. We encourage (our clients) to think a little bit more about what’s the right fit.”
As an example, Simons points to the “living” display Brooklyn Outdoor created from a shipping container in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood for client Anheuser-Busch. For two days in November 2015, customers could sample a new brew from a bar set up in the container, while also enjoying live music and a photo booth. Proceeds benefited the nonprofit Eastern Market Corp.
“The relationships that my team and I have in the industry have really carried us to this point where we have people coming to us every day saying, ‘We’ve heard of you guys, we need the help,’ ” Simons says. “We’re very fortunate that we get to build the best inventory for our clients and give them what they want.” — Tom Beaman