Thursday, October 27, 2016

The rising high morale in the ad industry

Last week Campaign Magazine released the results of its latest survey and found morale in the ad industry had dropped 36 percent from last year's dangerously low levels.

Among the many reasons for the cliff dive: lack of agency leadership, lack of work/life balance, lack of office space, lack of Christmas bonus, and lack of anybody who has any clue about what the fuck anyone is doing.

It would be easy, too easy, to pile on and in Trumpian fashion say, "See? I told you so." After all I've been writing about these issues for more than 8 years. And has any agency ever reached out to me and said, "Rich, here's a million or two million dollars, come on board and help us turn this around?"

The answer is no, they have not.

Not surprisingly I'm tired of harping on the same old tropes. So I'm not going to.

You've heard that old managerial axiom, "The beatings will continue until morale improves."

Well, it's true. Because the ad agency folks I talk to the most are fellow veteran freelancers who are no longer at the agencies.

We've sat in the cruel 8 AM Monday morning status meetings.
We've occupied the middle seat on the flight to Des Moines.
We've eaten enough shit to fertilize a farm the size of Mongolia.

We took the beatings. Left the cubicle farm. And now our morale has improved.

Two weeks ago, my art director partner and I had a meeting with our client, a small start up company. There were only four of us in the meeting and the enthusiasm was quite contagious. Before long we were not only talking about the ideas on the table but collaborating on new concepts that could be implemented in the future. It was fun, productive and invigorating.

Afterwards, my partner and I looked at each other and thought this is the way advertising should be.

To summarize:

We're happy with agency leadership -- it's us.
We're happy with the work/life balance --I can take a nap anytime I want to.
We're happy with the office space --my partner will often blast Miles Davis from his desk, but his desk is 11.8 miles away from mine in Culver City.

At the risk of jinxing everything, you might say we're the happiest people in advertising.

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