What happens to those in media agencies when they hit 50? Take a look around you. How many people are anywhere close to being eligible for a free bus pass? The last IPA Agency Census revealed that, in 2012, the average age of staff in a media agency was 31 years old. That means most people working in the business are still young enough to play sports such as football or netball professionally.
As the UK population becomes ever older, and with general working ages increasing annually, it is not unreasonable to wonder whether this situation can be sustained.
Earlier this year, the Lords Committee on Public Service and Demographic Change forecast that half of those born in the UK after 2007 can expect to live to over 100. Between 2010 and 2030, the number of people aged over 65 is set to increase by 51 per cent, with the number of people aged over 85 doubling during the same period.
Meanwhile, a new influx of ambitious and capable leaders over the past year – such as Dan Clays (OMD), Mark Creighton (Mindshare), Josh Krichefski (MediaCom), Anna Watkins (Initiative) and Paul Frampton (Havas Media) – have firmly planted the flag for the under-40s.
As the media continues to evolve, perhaps there is a bigger picture to consider – namely that those perceived to understand digital are being catapulted into the hotseats.
Another possible explanation for the apparent disappearance of grey hairs from the industry is media’s reputation for being one of the most social businesses around.
Long hours, incessant ego-stoking and stroking, and bar-room banter are the norm – and, despite what you might want to believe, play an important part of the job if you want to make waves in the industry. Perhaps the simple truth is that, as people get older and have more of life’s grown-up issues to wrestle with – kids, ageing parents, chrysanthemums – the impetus simply wanes.
But is it a shortsighted industry that leaves those with years of experience – such as Steve Booth, Nigel Sharrocks and even the comparatively youthful Jed Glanvill – "exploring new opportunities"? Is media too young?