Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Talent Crisis? What Crisis?

I'm seeing a lot of chatter lately on the Interwebs from Recruitment people…er, I'm sorry, Talent Acquisitions Officers, regarding the best way for ad agencies to attract and retain top creative talent.

Apparently there's a crisis in adland and many writers and art directors are foregoing a career on the agency side and opting instead for the promising world of start up techs. Or the cash rich giants of Silicon valley and Silicon beach: Facebook, Google and Amazon.

The crisis, I believe, is self-generated.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist or a Leadership Committee or even a prankish stunt at the recent Cannes't Festival to put this puppy to rest.

All it takes is some common sense.
Mmmmm, where are we going to find that?

As a 44-year old freelance copywriter, I feel have the credentials to speak on the matter. After all, I spent the first two years in the business writing recruitment ads.

And the rest of my "career" hop-scotching from agency to agency in search of the ideal environment. Or a better commute. Or just better bagels.

If I were in the business of nabbing the best and the brightest for an agency, here's what I would offer:

An office. You want to be in the business of coming up with ideas for America's Fortune 500 companies? We're going to give you the space to do it. With a window, a door and a desk large enough to accommodate a surreptitious afternoon nap. No AmazingDesks™, no shoulder-to-shoulder picnic tables, no need for Bose Noise Canceling headphones to put over your Beats Noise Canceling headphones. You're welcome.

Nights. They belong to you. We believe that after you've put in a hard day of ideating or content creation or emojifying, your brain needs to shut down. The doors at the agency close at 7. So you get home by 8. To see your kids. Your husband. Your wife. And the rest of your life. Clients need to be told that last minute changes do not get last minute solutions. Thinking requires time. Good night.

Weekends. See above. Saturdays and Sundays also belong to you. However, certain situations may create the need for more of your time. Clients don't expect us to give our time away for free and we don't expect you too either. If we bring you in on the weekend, we will pay you extra for the weekend. Seems fair, right?

A Bitch of a Pitch.  Pitching new business can be exciting, nerve-wracking, exhausting, career-changing and exhausting. It should also be rewarding. If we pitch new business and we win new business, the holding company officers in New York will take home a little taste. We think you should too. It's that simple. Here's your envelope.

The Work. Finally, because we offer people an unprecedented environment for creativity, an environment you won't find anywhere else in the agency world, we expect, no, we demand the kind of work that you won't find anywhere else in the agency world. We believe great work generates more great work. You deliver on your end, we'll deliver on ours.

Produce great work and you get to keep your office, your nights, your weekends and your bonuses.

Don't produce great work and you'll find yourself at another agency, sitting at the long table at 4 AM, eating cold Thai food and wondering how to tell the art director next to you that she has to find a new deodorant.

See how that works?


george tannenbaum said...


Cecil B. DeMille said...

And when are you opening this agency, sir, that I may being to queue to apply to toil there instead of here?

ChronicallySleepy said...

As a young creative who has grown accustomed to your young-creative bashing since I started following you, I can say this is appreciated. I can also say most of your bashing is completely legitimate, sobering, and appreciated in a sense also.

My LA agency, a notable run-of-the-mill shop that you've probably freelanced at, just switched over to this 'open seating' sham. And although I don't know the writer next to me very well, we did share a laugh at this post while simultaneously bumping into each others chairs and spilling some coffee. So thank you for the icebreaker, and the coffee stain.

Rich Siegel said...

I bash young creatives?

Ford said...

That's some truth right there Rich. But think how much money all those holding companies jamming more people into less space over linger hours. Those private jets don't buy themselves.

ChronicallySleepy said...

Perhaps bash is the wrong word. Maybe it's more that you do not miss an opportunity for a "Kid's these days don't understand..." kind of rant. But like I said yesterday, it's oddly appreciated because everything you say is true, we are self-entitled and largely havn't come up through the ranks in a fashion similar to you. So maybe this open-seating is just the senior's way of reminding us we still aren't shit.

Anyways, off to fill this talent void one static banner ad at a time. Cya on your next post.

Jason Fox said...

Well said. Never underestimate the power of a shut door or a short nap.

jCitizen said...

Salary and project work that is billed hourly doesn't make sense, most creatives should be contract. No one wastes time when they're freelance unless they're asked to, and if a creative isn't working well they aren't brought on next project. CDs and other management make sense to have on staff for consistency, but the people who actually make the work should freelance. It would help weed out the deadwood quick, keep creatives on their toes (and stop whining!) and those who build a good relationship with the agency will be paid better while sticking around as long as any full-timer would, but with all the HR nonsense.