Thursday, May 25, 2006


A lawsuit filed earlier this month in the U.S. by a longtime McCann Erickson media executive who alleges he was wrongfully terminated because of his age is drawing attention to what one executive recruiter calls "the elephant in the room". The advertising business has always been a youth-obsessed profession because of the demographic-targeting requirements of so much of its end product, but today new forces are shaping industry perceptions and planning. Marketers are exerting intense pressure on agencies to find new ways to adapt to a rapidly evolving media landscape. Insiders acknowledge a general industry sense that the new world of digital communications is "a young person's business." Some even suggest that "15, 20 or 25 years of experiences can actually be a disadvantage" for agency personnel who must suddenly reorient themselves to operate effectively in a digital environment. Others argue that the issue of competence in this field is not related to age but rather to a person's attitude and enthusiasm for adapting to and finding energizing challenges in a time of epochal change.

THIS WEEK'S QUESTION: Do you think that the changing media environment is fueling age discrimination at ad agencies?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, but to their peril. A young mind is always able to adapt to new technologies with greater speed than an old one. While we hate to admit it, the cliche of an old fart trying to dial his grandkiddies with a remote control has some merit.
The problem is that while youth can adapt to technology quicker, the ability to apply this technology in a creative sense draws from craft and skill that can only be fostered through experience.
Lose seniority and you'll be left with gimickery; a medium without any message.

(And no, I'm not an old fart)

4:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You don't have to show proof of age or a senior's card to have a good idea.

7:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree more 4:21. Age should nver be used as a discriminator.

While the young guns may, on occaision, look better in Diesel a T'shirt, than their elders; they certainly don't have a monopoly on creativity/ideas.

And those that purport such myopic thinking are usually (blanket statement) CDs over 40 who, like sad parents, relive their glory days, by surrounding themselves with youngsters. And let's face it, it's easier to manipulate and intimidate the young and naive, than the older and more seasoned creatives It's all a bit of an ego wank really.

8:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the industry is prejudiced to younger people, then how come "junior teams" are getting closer and closer to 30?

The industry is no longer just a domain for the very young, and it will continue to progress this way.

9:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

fuck age. you're either good or you're not. you either care about the work you do or you don't. you're either a hack or you're not. young hacks grow into old hacks.

I don't reckon there are many old hacks out there who were once guns when they were young. sure, some. but I suspect most of the old hacks were probably shit when they were 25, and they're still shit now.

picasso got cooler and cooler the older he got, until he was the coolest fucking old guy in the world, painting 200 grand canvasses in the morning and then fucking hot latin chicks in the afternoon. all while looking like a shrivelled up bald prune.

now THAT'S ageing gracefully.

9:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hasn't there ALWAYS been age discrimination at ad agencies?

9:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't know, I wasn't born until 1986....

12:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fuck yes! And there always will be. Advertising is for the young. It's too hard for the old fucks. The older you get the more you hate dumb meddling clients. And you just can't get it up anymore for doing another shite trade ad that the client will knock into shape for you anyway. Here's a test - pinch a bit of skin on the back of your hand and stretch it up. If it pops back into shape in two seconds with no lasting marks then you're good to go. If it doesn't - get out now! Go and do a grown-up job that actually means something and that won't have you slumped over your desk with a spaz at 45. Fuck this for a game of soldiers.

12:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm 31. almost 32. I have been working in advertising for 6 years. I face being made redundant by 40. but that's life. advertising is a shallow industry and hopefully by 40 I will not be shallow anymore so will leave of my own accord.

1:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm 43 and trying to get my first job in advertising. Is it too late for me? Should I just give up and go back to plumbing?

3:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, it's not just about being young.

Being really really good looking will also get you a long way in the ad industry.

But don't worry, this applies to both sexes.

6:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Explain Garry Horner then, 6.00PM.

12:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Advertising is the most important job in the world today. Without it the global capitalist system would come crashing down around our ears. And I know it's not a perfect system, but it's the only one that seems to work. If anyone has a better idea I haven't seen any sign of it gaining any traction. So, if we're stuck with capitalism, advertising is its blood. At it's most basic, if someone makes something and wants to sell it for money so he can eat, he needs to tell people about it. The more people he tells in a more compelling way than the other guy making the same thing, the more he eats. And on it goes. So be proud to be working in the most essential profession there is, because without it, we'll all be back to throwing rocks at each other.

7:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have GOT to be joking. Essential? Making shit Holden dealer ads is the most important job in the world today? Polluting more airspace to sell more shit to unfulfilled, shopping-addicted suckers who hurtle into debt to buy it, shit that to manufacture soaks up more non-renewable resources and then to dispose of adds to enormous, permanent mountains of toxic trash.....this is your idea of important?

Fuck, you MUST be young to know so much.

8:19 PM  

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