Jan 16, 2007

It used to be fun

While self-proclaimed new media experts, change agents, web 2.0-niks and the like are tripping over themselves to define the new world of advertising and media, they seem to be overlooking one important component: Who’s going to want to work in it.

Seriously, who are they going to get to write all those keyword searches, invitations for consumer generated content and generic commercials you can pay to tag with your flower shop’s name and address.

Advertising used to be somewhat glamorous, especially the creative end. Bright, talented, ambitious people went into it to create TV commercials and print ads that oftentimes became part of the common vernacular. They were well-compensated for their efforts, too, with creative directors at the multitude of big agencies pulling down salaries well into the six figures. And as clueless as clients could sometimes be, as awful as some of the spots were, the upside was pretty terrific: weeks in Los Angeles bunking at the Four Seasons, eating at the Ivy and otherwise pretending to be a Hollywood player; actually making a mini-movie with real actors who often as not were celebrities. Not to mention the thrill of seeing your work on prime time TV.

And if that’s all gone, just who are we going to get to work in the creative department? Despite the hype, interactive departments are still filled with guys who couldn’t break into the general world along with a sprinkling of hard-core geeks. Why? Well for starters, the pay sucks. Interactive (and for that matter, direct) shops pay creatives considerably less than general agencies. There’s also the fact that they’re rarely creating the campaigns, but rather, adapting something the general guys have done. So where’s the glamour in being the B team?

If creativity really is the be all and end all for an advertising agency, we’re going to have to find a way to keep it front and center. A recent post on jaffejuice.com, Ground Zero for the whole “TV is dead” movement is an eerie harbinger of how that crew would turn us into McKinseys for the marketing community where creative is a minor factor, to be outsourced at best.

Until, of course, someone rediscovers its value.

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