Monday, January 27, 2014

Slave Labor

Spotted on Olympic Blvd. near the office where I am currently working.

The building is across the street from my lawyer's office, where my living will and trust was composed and is now hermitically sealed in a vault. A daily reminder that I am inching closer and closer to the Big Dirt Nap.

I snapped the picture because I never thought of proper spinal maintenance as an impulse buy. So I'm not sure Dr. Feelgood's sidewalk marketing stunt brought in any new customers. But I do know that last week, on this very day, the nation was celebrating Martin Luther King Day and his achievements in the battle for equality.

In the advertising world however, those celebrations were largely ignored.

It was business as usual. That is, plantation-style business as usual. I know I'm guilty of hyperbole and I apologize in advance if I offend, but in light of this nation's unfair wealth distribution, the comparison is not all that unwarranted.

Particularly if you were to rip open a typical advertising holding company 10-K Report. There, you would see the startling and criminal inequality of wages.

The plantation owners…er, company officers are obliged to report their income which start in the 7 digit figures but often roll into 8 digit territory. This is a little misleading as that number also includes the value of certain non-liquid remuneration, such as stock options, private jet usage and five star professional escorts.

Labor, that is, the people who actually come up with the ideas, endure the client abuse, eat the cold pizza, write the code, schlep the foam core boards, sacrifice the weekends, assemble the decks, stitch together the wireframes, re-do the ideas and farm the cubicles, also has to be accounted for in those hieroglyphic 10-K reports.

The total sum of their wages is often buried on a line item that looks like a minor expense to the organization.

Paper Clips/Rubber Bands-------------------------------------.0027%

This too is an exaggeration.

Jack Welch, the former CEO of GE, once said, "Our best assets ride up on the elevator in the morning and ride down at night."

Today in advertising, no one sees the employees as assets. And if they do ride up in the elevator in the morning, they don't come back down until sometime the next morning. And those are the slackers.

Mind you, all this excess work is not done for the benefit of the sharecroppers, but for the benefit of the shareholders.

Clearly, what this industry needs is a spirited warrior to fight on behalf of the workers. A Martin Luther King type who is willing to speak the truth, start the dialogue and carry the torch for greater wage equality.

I'd be up for the challenge, but I swam 2000 yards yesterday and my back is killing me.

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