Monday, March 2, 2015

"We can't afford the big boy."

Staying busy as a freelance copywriter is a matter of lining up the next gig before the current gig is over. To that end, I am often trolling the Internet, scouring job boards, making note of account changes and sniffing out turmoil.

Turmoil, as I often tell others, is a freelancer's best friend.

"Oh, the ECD Got Quit?" 

That means there's a power vacuum and nervous Account People -- like space -- abhor a vacuum. They want their clients in the hands of seasoned and even sometimes cynical veterans. Of course, what Account people want and what Account people get are not always in synch.

Recently I found an interesting job listing.

An agency in town was looking for a Freelance Jr. Copywriter. They specifically requested a Junior and not a middleweight or even a senior.

By the way, just for fun I applied for the job. It only required one click of the mouse and I like to picture the recruiter scratching her head thinking, "Isn't 44 a little old for a Junior Copywriter?"

Then it occurred to me that this one little job listing was the perfect microcosm of our industry and its current state of demise.

You see when an agency says they are looking for a Junior copywriter, they are looking for someone cheap. Cheap, as in we don't want to spend the extra few hundred dollars it might cost to bring in a middleweight, we'd rather trust the stewardship of our clients to someone who still doesn't know the difference between your and you're.

Someone who writes by day and experiments with hipster hairstyles by night.

Someone who has never heard of Jay Chiat and thinks Lee Clow is an appetizer at a Dim Sung Bar.

Hiring a Junior Freelance Copywriter is also incredibly nearsighted. Oh sure you might save dollars in the short term, but with the all the rewrites, the do-overs and the supervisory hours wasted in mentoring, those savings vanish quite quickly.

It's like those mathematically-impaired people who visit seedy strip mall shops to borrow money against their paycheck and get sucked into a vortex of spiraling interest costs. They leave those places with just enough money in their pocket to go next door for two chocolate donuts. Or as they refer to it -- dinner.

It's all part of the commoditization of advertising. Where ideas and creativity have taken a backseat to SuperDesks and low-cost Army Grade toilet paper in the bathrooms.

Which makes this a great time to remind ourselves of the Golden Rule of Commerce:

You get what you pay for.

Followed by the second Golden Rule:

Rich Siegel.
Three Writers for the price of two.™

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