A thousand people could have signed this rant but none of them would.
Boys and girls, you think sexism is a problem? Try ageism.
If your position feels dodgy, try calling any of the major headhunters.
They won’t call you back if they know you’re nearer 50 than 40. Never
mind if you have a drawerful of Campaign Press and D&AD awards.
Never mind if you have won, held and serviced countless millions of
pounds’ worth of business. Never mind if your campaigns work like a
train. Never mind if you are producing work now that is as good as
anything you’ve ever done. If you’re over a certain age, it’s not a
glass ceiling. It’s a steel front door. Grey cells just don’t count,
just grey hair. A case of dye or die perhaps?
Good thing you’ve got your own agencies, David, John, Robin...
Does an ad appear on TV or in the press or on the Internet with the age
of the team on it? Is there a symbol at the top left-hand corner with a
thatch and wrinkle guide?
What if Dickens had been stopped from writing at 40, when he still had
great expectations? What if Picasso had been barred from painting?
Or Rubenstein from playing? Or Einstein from theorising? (OK, OK, it’s
only advertising, but these things are relative.)
I’m not making one of those boring old cases for the value of
experience, by the way, merely suggesting that a creative business
should take an open-minded view of creativity.
Stop and ungloat for a moment, cropped and bovver-booted jury members
under-35. In five years’ time, 15 at most, your world will crumble.
If you have kids at school or university, suddenly they’ll be moving out
of the big house, saying goodbye to the car and reminiscing about that
last great family holiday. Some days you’ll work humbly as a freelance.
Other days you’ll make lots of phone calls, leave a lot of messages. The
clever, witty, tough, hard-working person you are will gradually go a
bit quiet as the full extent of the barrier sinks in.
Then perhaps you’ll read the paper or watch the box for a while and
boggle at all the work you’d have binned in your mind before your Pentel
even kissed the pad.
Send your rants to Stefano Hatfield, 174 Hammersmith Road, London W6 7JP