If you listen to what many commentators are saying about working in the ad industry these days, much of what you get hit with is negative and gloomy. But rather than join the bandwagon, I’m not here to complain, whine or lament right now. I’m here to add a sprinkle of positive light to the ever-evolving puzzle of life in this industry. Ladies and Gentlemen, here are 5 reasons why working in advertising is now better than ever.
Once upon a time, pretty much all we worked on was TV ads, radio, press, print and billboards. If you were lucky enough to score a blue chip client, you might jag a cinema ad every three years! These days, a tsunami of new media has flooded the scene – even within the channels mentioned above. And don’t even start me on the veritable banquet of social media, content, and programmatic online formats arriving every week. It’s truly mind boggling to consider how many channels we now have available to advertise in. The next brief to hit my desk probably won’t require an ‘ad’ at all! I could be tackling a new product idea, a staged event, a PR-seeking stunt or a short film. Advertising in 2016 really is like a box of chocolates.
I vividly remember the days when it was impossibly hard for young creative talent to make their mark in ad land, with most jobs tied up by entrenched veterans. The excuse was often that ‘experience wins’. These days in many ways the tide has turned to favour the young, with a renewed value in the currency of hiring fresh, untainted minds. After all, they are the digital natives! They can bring amazingly diverse skills, a can-do attitude and little reluctance to dive headfirst into digital channels. And they often do it on a wage that a senior creative wouldn’t get out of bed for! This game has never been so open to young players.
Once upon a time, an agency’s ability to create great work was far more limited by the cost of quality technology than it is today. Look no further than the evolution of shooting moving pictures as an example. Once the domain of 35mm cameras only afforded by those with a spare kidney to sell, the ‘film’ planet shifted on its axis last decade with the introduction of digital cameras. The same can be said for stills cameras. The same for computer technology, editing software, printers, website templates, App development etc. The cost of entry to create quality content using technology has plummeted. We now have more movie-making ability in our pocket than we once had in an entire production truck! It’s never been easier.
Go back 10 years and one of the biggest gripes you’d hear from an agency was ‘I need more time to get the message across.’ Many of those shackles disappeared with the introduction of the ‘C-bomb’, otherwise known as Content. Need 3 minutes and 36 seconds to tell your rich brand story? Go for it. Need eight cleverly planned, written and filmed webisodes to communicate your brand’s amazing benefits? Sure, make eight videos! Our ability to share longer format stories, in-depth information and brand films is now far more possible than the good old days. Of course it still can take a hefty chunk of money to get things actually shared and seen, but at least now time is on our side when telling stories.
I’m sure if you ran a workforce poll asking what people want more of, one of the top answers would be ‘A better work-life balance.’ As agencies have reluctantly shifted from having long-term, retainer based client relationships to more project work, it’s not hard to see how staffing has evolved to reflect this. When I look around my industry I have never seen so many people working part-time, contracting as a consultant, or called-upon on a freelance basis. In fact it’s almost unusual these days to hear of ‘Joe Bloggs’ leaving one full time job to step into another like-for-like role. No doubt sometimes the shift from full time to part-time is involuntary, but I personally know of many agency people who made the choice to spend less time tied to an office desk. Whether they can always make the money work or not is another matter, but the choice is now there like never before.
So what do you think? Do you agree, or do I need to build a time machine back to the 80’s to experience advertising’s greatest days?
Nick Ikonomou is a Senior Creative at BCM