Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Confessions of a 44 year old



When I'm not reading about the daily brainfuckery coming from the White House, I spend a lot of time reading trade articles about our industry. That means lots of articles, lots of comments, lots of bitching and moaning about ageism.

Ageism is the new black.

And with ad agencies relentlessly reducing their payroll so they can send little white envelopes stuffed with cash to the Capos...er, I mean, holding company officers, the volume is only going to get louder.

It used to be the 60 year olds whining about getting washed out of the business.

Then the 50 year olds started getting nudged out.

And now, my group, the seasoned veterans in their mid-40's are finding work hard to come by.

Soon, as this piece in McSweeneys pointed out, the 30 year olds who peacock around the office in their cuffed pants and their ear gauges and their precious manicured beards and their Tony Jacklin golf clubs, will find themselves hauled away from the Long Table of Mediocrity™ and pounding the merciless streets like the rest of us.

I know you've seen it as well.

When Adweek or Adage or MishMash releases their annual list of 30 Top Creatives Under Thirty, the social justice warriors start cracking their knuckles and let loose with a flurry of invective. (Much of it completely legit, by the way.)

"30 Top Creatives and only 2 women! Outrageous!"

"Where are the people of color?"

"Bros being Bro's high living other Bros. #Tired"

And then, just as sure as the agency getting hit with a big RFP just before the Christmas break, some old timer will chime in with what he or she thinks is a valid complaint.

"I didn't see one 53 year old on your gosh darn list. And why is the type so small?"

That's the thing about ageism. It's like the weather. Lots of people talk about it, but nobody does anything about it.

Maybe because they can't.
It's there.
It's accepted.
And it's not going away.

Frankly I don't pay much attention to it. In fact, you could say I'm immune to it.

Because between my unvarnished embrace of the truth, my insistence on getting paid a fair wage, my reluctance to work in an office or the dreaded work late in an office, my often contrarian POV, my disdain for process and committee think, and my ridiculous demand for time for proper creative exploration, I have given people plenty of good reasons not to hire me.

Age is not one of them.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Try being 61. I won an office-full of awards in my day. And I was an ECD at two agencies. Now, nothing but crickets from recruiters.
And I most assuredly could still write rings around these 20-somethings masquerading as seasoned, experienced writers.

Patrick Scullin said...

The beautiful thing about age is it brings wisdom.

Théo said...

For our golden-years colleagues, discussing the long table of mediocrity may boil down to discussing age. You could be the best person in the world for the task, and be fluent in the millennial vernacular, but it means nothing if the cool kids across the table are exchanging glances, rolling their eyes your way, and mouthing the magic word "Ewww."

Henry Wood said...

Part of the issue is that if you're in your 40's your first real experience with the Internet was around 20, with email.. very few in marketing would have been involved in early web development, SEM, then the merging of practices - you simply cannot build the understanding required for an online world - people might say the idea's the idea but it's changed - most marketers over 30 even are simply grounded in their particular practice.

The most valuable marketer out there is probably the 35-40 year old who started in early website building and email campaigns - a combination between knowledge and experience, maybe not the most knowledge and maybe not the most experience but enough of both.