Today’s advertising agency is a reactionary, back-peddling, sweat shop populated by teenagers who classify “getting drunk together and wolfing down free pizza while working on a new business pitch,” a social life.
OK, I’m exaggerating. But you must admit, there is a kernel of truth to that when it comes to a lot of agencies.
The statement that younger minds have fresher ideas is a truism for the lazy. More accurately, agencies have never really had the kind of environment or attitude to attract and retain people over the age of 35 (particularly women over the age of 35).
It’s not that older folks get stale (some do, some don’t), it’s that the agency world is too inflexible to accommodate their lifestyle. For anyone with a young family and two working parents, there simply has to be some give and take with their employer. You can’t work 90-hour weeks for months on end and still expect to be married. Sure, everyone in the agency world will be singing your praises, but your kids won’t even know your name.
It’s not good for the agency either.
Ignoring the part of the talent pool with the lion’s share of the experience, proven talent, and an extremely rich lifestyle should be an obvious folly. For some reason it’s not. Only hiring young minds who will toil ceaselessly for peanuts leads to mediocre advertising, frazzled employees, and promiscuous clients. The fact is, young minds HAVE to work harder in order to meet the kind of deadlines that clients demand. As a result, agencies think that it actually takes this amount of time to do the work. For more experienced minds, it doesn’t take as long to get into the groove. For another thing, having kids makes you a more efficient human.
What kind of ideas they will be getting from their agency should be a primary concern of clients during their selection process. For some reason, it is not. Typically, the big, transformative, game changing, cross media ideas come from more sophisticated creative minds. Most of those minds are on the older end of the spectrum.
Clients seem more concerned with the quality of the hand-holder than the quality of the idea-generator.
If you're a client, you should ask yourself a few questions. Is the agency a place that supports its people or do they hang them out to dry? Is it a place that supports and attracts experienced, successful people over the age of 35 or are they constantly looking for fresh young blood? Does it have women in the management structure? Do those women have kids? Do they have a recruitment strategy? Don’t listen to the dealmakers there, they say yes for a living. Look for clues.
Being on the older end of the spectrum themselves, agency finance people are very experienced at monetizing clients and squeezing every penny out of every project. Now if they could get the same level of experience in the creative department, the bean counters could charge more and clients would still be getting more for their money.