Is Your Agency A Breeding Ground For Bullies?

Lord knows the ad industry is a place for eccentrics and weirdness in general. But see if this story from matches your workplace experience:

In a recent study, bullied employees likened their experiences to a battle, water torture, a nightmare or a noxious substance. Understanding the seriousness of workplace bullying and what it feels like to get bullied could help managers put the brakes on the behavior, shown to afflict 25 to 30 percent of employees sometime during their careers.
The scientists interviewed 17 women and 10 men ranging from 26 to 72 years old, who had experienced bullying. Often, people have trouble putting into words their emotions surrounding bully behavior. So the researchers analyzed the metaphors found throughout the participants’ descriptions of bullying.
More than any other metaphor, participants characterized bullying as a contest or battle, with a female religious educator saying, “I have been maimed. … I’ve been character assassinated.” Others expressed feeling “beaten, abused, ripped, broken, scared and eviscerated,” the researchers stated in the upcoming issue of the journal Management Communication Quarterly.
The bullies were described as two-faced actors, narcissistic dictators and devils, leading workers to feel like vulnerable children, slaves and prisoners in these situations. As one employee explained, “I feel like I have ‘kick me’ tattooed on my forehead.”

This study was conducted across a broad spectrum of industries, not advertising in general. But still, it might ring true for many of you out there.
So, does it? Do you think ad agencies are more conducive to bullying than other places?

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. skyview satellite says:

    No, ad agencies are not more conducive to bullying than other places. Work is largely a social experience in a social environment, and as social animals we possess an abstract, symbolic sense of self-worth: our self-worth in such situations is inextricably wed to our status.
    Bullying is only one form of asserting the right of self-worth, and work is only one arena for its exercising. The most laughable part of the portion excerpted here is the assumption that managers are inclined to “put the brakes” on bullying behavior if only it could be reliably identified. Please. Until a manager feels that an employee’s behaviour either A) reflects poorly on the manager or B) communicates some disrespect to the manager, the only person who has any interest stopping bullying is the bullied employee.
    People who feel bullied need to leave, quit. It is the ONLY way that bullying stops.