Working in advertising used to be like making a pact with the
Devil. The business would reward you well but its demands were
all-consuming, sucking you dry and spitting you out once you'd outlived
High salaries were danger money for being in an industry where job
security was an alien concept. Senior managers worked crazy hours and
expected everybody else to do likewise. And if you didn't want to remain
on the treadmill, there were plenty of others willing to take your
The recession of the early 90s changed much of that. Thousands of
industry jobs were lost, agencies grew leaner and a freeze on
recruitment then has led to a paucity of experienced and talented people
Moreover, the cold climate forced the business to re-evaluate
Good staff had to be cossetted or they would leave without ready
replacements to fill their shoes. And what was the point of being in the
office until midnight if you were too tired to be productive?
Of course, places with time-locked working practices still exist but
there are far fewer of them. Today, agencies such as Abbott Mead Vickers
BBDO have proved that enduring success can only be built with staff
treated with respect and decency in return for their loyalty.
As the feature on page 24 points out, the industry has woken up to the
fact that people are its most important assets and that allowing staff
to strike an equal balance between work and home is right both morally
Call it enlightened self-interest, if you like. More likely the shift is
simply a manifestation of a wider social change in which company ethics
are scrutinised as never before, causing social and commercial behaviour
to become inextricably linked.
Whatever the reason, the trend is to be welcomed. However, much remains
to be done. Not only are management consultancy and the City now as
equally alluring to graduates as advertising, but the industry must draw
its recruits from a generation whose philosophy about work is a world
apart from that of their parents.
They neither expect nor want a job for life and demand instant
gratification from what they do. If they don't get it, they'll look
elsewhere for fulfillment - and it's a reasonable bet it won't be in