Jan 23, 2007

The Great Drift Downwards

Time was when advertising executives—creative directors, higher up accountniks and the like—made a very good living. With salaries that allowed them to live amongst doctors, lawyers and bankers. Those days seem to rapidly be drawing to a close, and (self-interest) aside, we’re at a loss to understand why.

Every headhunter I’ve spoken to recently has mentioned this trend to me, so it’s not a figment of Toadian imagination. Part of this, I’m told is a result of the lower salaries paid by interactive agencies. The gradual shrinking of the actual number of big agencies (e.g. shops with the wherewithal to pay the big salaries) is another part, as is pressure from holding companies like WPP and Omnicom to keep the numbers down.

All this does however, is drive more and more people from the business. As a junior, the idea of one day pulling down a $300K/year salary was one of the things that kept me going. But now that CDs are looking at salaries as low as $175K, juniors are asking themselves if it’s really worth it and the answer is usually “no.” (These are NYC #s I’m quoting)


Anonymous said...

maybe im still green and idealistic but $175K is a whole heck of a lot of money still.

Alan Wolk said...

So it would seem, nien.
But in NYC, salaries and cost of living is such that it's not really that much money. At least not if you've gotten into the business expecting to become pretty comfortable if you do well at it.

While salaries for lawyers, CEOs and (especially) Wall Streeters have skyrocketed over the past few years, it's just curious that ad agency salaries have dropped.

So while $175K is nothing to sneeze at, it's not the kind of money that's going to attract the best and the brightest.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, 175K isn't bad, but when I worked in NYC 10 years ago, my one-bedroom apartment was $2,100 a month. And it was just an average place.

I can't even guess what the extortion rate is now.

Alan Wolk said...

An apartment that was $2100/month in 1997 is likely to be around $4,000/month now.

And you're talking about a 1 bedroom. Throw a family into the picture and housing prices are even more out of control.

Anonymous said...

In my arena (studio) major clients want contracts that pay a flat hourly fee (no itemization). This came from all the shenanigans of the past, see Mitch Mousalem. Years ago at McCann studio artists actually were paid 70% of the fee for a mechanical. Now many studio artists are paid $35 dollars an hour and they must know a lot. Wages have stagnated big time. The BDAs are bloated with management and extremely top heavy. Even when losing money, the top gets all the loot. We are starting to see a return of privately held entities for which the monsters can't compete. Then they will get bought out and the pattern will repeat itself. Fortunately by then my teeth will be in a cup and my liver will be in a jar.