Wednesday, May 4, 2016
Playing with Fire.
It has now become a weekly occurrence.
One of the trade magazines, Adweek, AdAge or AgencySpy, will announce the hiring or promotion of one or several executives to high level positions. With it, comes the obligatory, carefully-styled press photo.
If in that photo, there is not one woman, one African American, or one member from the LGBT community (though I don't know how he or she would be possible to identify) the social justice warriors kick it into high gear.
It is as automatic as the folks at WingStop getting my order all wrong.
This is not to say that I don't understand.
I agree that the business is dominated by young, soft handed, white dudes with an overabundance of lumberjack shirts and stupid over-manicured beard cuts. And I fully concur that the industry would be much improved with a heaping helping of diversity -- including some more old people in the Creative Department, I never hear that from the outraged keyboard clackers.
Once more, I also understand that even going near this topic is opening myself up to a torrent of criticism. Thankfully, I'm getting to a point in my career where I can speak my mind, because frankly I don't give a shit what people want to believe about me.
Truth is, I hear and read a lot of complaining about this scenario, but very little in the way of concrete solutions. Allow me to suggest that the answer may be in gardening.
You see an ad agency is like a tree. For it to grow and bear sweet, juicy fruit, it needs pruning.
First, let's get rid of C-Suite Ass Nuggets -- People who make rape jokes. Bosses who manage up and never see the people beneath them. Drunks, drug users and anyone, particularly CEO's, who operate with a broken moral compass. Or, more precisely, no moral compass at all. That's a good place to start.
Second, let's identify the redundancies -- An account, even a difficult account, does not require a legion of Planners. We already have too many cooks in the kitchen. Do we need too many recipes as well? One planner, on one account, should suffice. And if you've been reading RoundSeventeen for any length of time you know that even one, may be one too many.
Third, let's keep identifying the redundancies -- Sorry to get repetitive, but the planning department is by no means the only culprit. How many times have you walked into a meeting to discuss a banner or a down and dirty 15 second spot and been confronted with an army of attendees? What the hell do all these people do? Making Skip Ads is just not that complicated. It's not.
Fourth, let's put the management in Management -- How is it that an assignment can change 5 times in the course of two days? Why are the people with MBA's and supposed logistical expertise not able, or willing, to steer a client? And guide them along a well-thought out path towards an agreed-upon goal? I suspect there's more order and efficiency in the governmental offices of Mogadishu in Somalia.
And finally, let's respect our elders -- This one is self-explanatory. And if it's not, consider the fact that a tree's growth and sustainability are a largely function of a quality root system.
If we took any or all of these suggestions and pruned wisely, there'd be more room at the top, and everywhere in between for women, African Americans, Asians, Latinos and gay people.
Oh and old guys.
Did I mention old guys?