By STEFANO HATFIELD, campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 31 July 1998 12:00AM
So many fat wallets, so little to buy. My, if you’re Micky Finn
right now, you’re sitting pretty. So too, the managers of half a dozen
media agencies that won’t exist in their current form a year from
Who would deny such rewards for those who’ve put mortgages where their
mouths are? Such entrepreneurism is partly the stuff of which the
business is made. But what of everyone else?
Last week, for the umpteenth time this year, a bright, capable, once
enthusiastic account director detailed a tale of endless, meaningless
meetings (incorporating hours of travel in between); fruitless bouts of
energy that end up in a focus group cul-de-sac; young creatives who
think they’re making Apocalypse Now; and discouraging internal
appraisals undertaken with paranoid, fearful management.
Advertising’s not fun and it’s not stimulating, was the message from yet
another gifted, interesting individual contemplating doing something -
anything - else. Of course, I gave my usual considered, sensitive
response to such musings: ’Get a life! You could be down t’pit, plucking
chickens, cleaning out old people’s bed pans or teaching history in
Lewisham to 34 14-year-olds.’
But there’s enough anecdotal evidence to suggest the loss of a
generation of talent, that can no longer see where there is to get to in
the UK ad business.
There’s a hypothetical question to which I’ve never found a satisfactory
answer. In a big media company of 150 people, how many people have any
real power to take major decisions over their clients’ business, for
example, to stay off telly before Christmas? A dozen? Two dozen? What
does everybody else do? How do you keep them motivated?
The same might be asked of a creative department with 15 teams. That
agency gets out a dozen or so fully fledged new television commercials
over the course of the year. And a few of the teams produce the majority
of the work. How do you keep them motivated?
Of course, there’s print and direct and all sorts of pitches to be
worked on and projects to be undertaken. And Campaign’s the first to say
that creative departments need re-training for the digital age. But the
point in both the media and creative examples is the chasm that exists
between the expectations of people joining the business and the
day-to-day reality of the job.
Perhaps that’s the same in every business. Perhaps the answer is: get
real or get out. But one of the ways in which people compensate for this
disparity is to believe in the ’culture’ of the place in which they
As these cultures are swallowed up in all these deals, what’s left? It’s
an important issue not much discussed beyond the bar. ’The deal’ is only
the beginning. That’s when the need for real management arises -
especially with the next recession looming.
This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk