People are your best asset
A view from Gemma Charles

People are your best asset

If things carry on like this, talented staff will leave and others won't pursue an advertising career in the first place.

It’s been just over a year now since Marketing merged with Campaign to create the wonderful organ that you’re reading today (be that online or in print).

To be honest, the milestone passed with little fanfare on the part of the editorial team. Not due to any quiet regret at the move but because we’re constantly iterating and reviewing as part of the ongoing journey.

As a former member of the Marketing parish, the past year has given me a ringside seat from which to view the trials and tribulations facing adland. What I’ve observed is an industry in flux – one that is ripe for disruption as media and technological landscapes shift and consumers pivot away from ads. It does, however, recognise the challenge ahead, launching positive initiatives such as new IPA president Sarah Golding’s Magic and the Machines agenda.

But a renewed confidence is bubbling up about the skills agencies do possess. The brand safety brouhaha put some fire in the belly of those who had their suspicions about the "panacea" offered by programmatic advertising but avoided calling it out for fear of being labelled out-of-touch luddites. Likewise, the recent Pepsi ad disaster was seized upon by those sceptical of the in-house trend (funny how muted the discussion has been about the provenance of McDonald’s "Dead dad" ad, though).

While working in advertising appears, at times, to be an exhilarating, exciting and immensely satisfying way to make a living, the other thing I’ve noticed is that the industry is grinding down its talent.

Read Amelia Torode’s thoughts as she spends time with her mum who is battling cancer. It’s hard to disagree when Torode says: "You shouldn’t need to bleed to succeed" and characterises advertising as a  "hard-working profession, not a life-or-death vocation".

Not long ago, Mother’s Ana and Hermeti Balarin lamented the lack of time available to let good ideas "spring up spontaneously". More recently, Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO’s Alex Grieve and Adrian Rossi made a plea for some "fucking rest", yearning for a culture that "rewards a 90-hour week not with a badge of honour but a dunce’s cap".

If things carry on like this, talented staff will leave and others won’t pursue an advertising career in the first place. Warner Music’s nabbing of John Allison and Chris Bovill could be a taste of things to come.

So after my first anniversary of getting under your skin, here’s to you, adland. Embrace change, get your swagger back and never forget to look after your people because without them, you’re nothing.

gemma.charles@haymarket.com
@gemma_charles

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