Digital Talent Needs More Than A Job. But All Talent Does.

Some days I really think I live in an echo chamber. Because I saw this article by HUGE CEO Aaron Shapiro tweeted and posted many times today.

Entitled “Why Digital Talent Doesn’t Want To Work At Your Company,” Shapiro makes many strong points. His conclusion:

You need them more than they need you. Demand for their services is so high, they can afford to be finicky. If they don’t like where they’re working, another firm with a more attractive culture and more grand opportunity will quickly swipe them up. That could be your company. But it could just as easily be someone else.

He makes a case for keeping talent happy — and that it takes more than money. It takes a challenging environment, a desire for greatness throughout the company, and a stimulating corporate culture. I made some related observations a few years ago in a column.

But Shapiro takes it a step further. Because much of the digital work being done today is humdrum, while some of it is truly world-changing. Think of it in advertising agency terms: Would you want to be a coder working on banner ads for a local insurance company, or working on an app that has functionality that truly helps people in some way? Some folks get to choose — and they’re not choosing traditional advertising agency environments or agency cultures that aren’t doing cutting-edge work.

In an ideal world, anyone in a creative business would feel challenged to do their best. But it doesn’t always work that way. We’ll see if Shapiro’s warning shot is heeded by advertising agency heads. Because corporate cultures, even big ones, tend to be shaped from the top down.

About Dan Goldgeier

Blogging on AdPulp since 2005, Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. In addition, he is a regular columnist for Dan published the best of his columns in a book entitled View From The Cheap Seats: A Broader Look at Advertising, Marketing, Branding, Global Politics, Office Politics, Sexual Politics, and Getting Drunk During a Job Interview. Look for it on Amazon in paperback and e-book editions.


  1. Shapiro is a little bit full of shit. Think of the big digital agencies: Digitas, Tribal, Razorfish. Does anyone really want to work at those shitholes? Digital is no different than traditional advertising. That is, there are a handful of stellar shops, but the majority are mediocre, and even more are awful. And in the digital arena, the percentage of awful shops may exceed the percentage of traditional shops one would deem awful. Digital talent might not want to work at your company. But in this job market, they are not above sucking it up for a paycheck.