Layoffs. There’s a word you don’t want to hear at the start of a new year. Nevertheless, business realities creep in and staff reductions are often the result.
In an internal memo obtained by Ad Age, Ogilvy’s Worldwide CEO, John Seifert, wrote:
We continue to experience volatility in our diverse client portfolio. Despite important new business wins, we face client budget cuts and pricing pressures; ongoing shifts in the type and mix of work we do; and the dynamics of a project-based business model, which makes full-year forecasting and financial management very challenging.
In related bad news, Arnold Worldwide, part of Havas, laid off 5 percent of its staff in Boston.
Double Bogey in Boulder
In more not great news for an industry in need of professionalism infused with energy and enthusiasm, Alex Bogusky has decided to step away from his namesake agency again.
CPB partner and chairman Chuck Porter said it was Bogusky’s decision to leave because he wished to “reprioritize and focus more on family.” Porter says Bogusky will still have an office at the shop where he’ll continue his personal projects and perhaps even do some consulting.
For now, the agency isn’t looking to fill his position.
Can You Lead A Creative To Water?
Séverine Bavon worked at RGA/London, Marcel, and TBWA\Paris before starting a new recruitment firm. She laid down a powerful Tweet stream about talent. More specifically, the lack of talent and mistreatment of talent in the advertising agency business.
So here’s a hard truth about agencies: great talent is not just leaving. It’s not joining, or has already left.
— Séverine Bavon (@severinebv) January 14, 2020
Once upon a time, an ad worker could trade her long hours for the rewarding creative outputs that came from the self-sacrifice. The argument that is consistently being made today is that there are no creative rewards when working to serve up programmatic ads and other watered-down forms of messaging masquerading as personalization.
I hear the argument and nod along in tacit agreement. I also hear the argument and recall how many long hours have been spent by me and colleagues on unimportant meetings and ultimately, mediocre creative outputs. Wasting time, being undervalued, and missing the creative high bar is nothing new.
Not being attracted to jobs in the ad business is new. And the intense competition for the best and brightest is also new. On a purely monetary basis, the best ad agencies simply can’t compete with the best technology companies.
No one can.
FANGs Chew Into the Talent Pool
This graph shows medium pay in 2018 at the following tech companies:
Now, let’s look at ad agency compensation:
It takes most people 10 or more years to rise through the agency ranks to become a creative director. Meanwhile, future CDs are being lapped by tech workers who make two, three, and even four times as much money.
Granted, compensation is only one consideration for the most talented makers. There’s the making itself to consider, and it’s a critical consideration.
If you work at an ad agency, you may get lucky and be asked to join a team that consistently makes brilliant TV and/or short films for a famous lifestyle brand. Or you might languish on crap accounts and end up with little to show for it.
Ad legend, Hal Riney said, “There are a lot of people in this business, but damn few really good ones, and also damn few who get the chance to do good work.” Riney knew the score.
If you work at Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, or Google (FANG), the work you do could be equally impactful, or it could be drudgery.
Tech and advertising, and every other industry under the sun either sinks or swims based on the core motivations inherent in its workforce. Big money is a big motivator, for sure. So is the chance to make cultural artifacts for a company or companies that you care about.
PREVIOUSLY ON ADPULP: Advertising’s Young Folks Don’t Need Awards or the Long Hours