EDITOR’S COMMENT: Younger staff have to be motivated or they’ll quit adland

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 now.

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

now.



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

work.



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

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