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Campaign Brief (AUS/NZ) Online.
Campaign Brief Magazine : March April 2008
PROBLEM agency, John Bevins, back in 1982, agrees t hat the po tent ial ly h igher salar ies could be a fact or, alo ng with the d emanding nat ure of th e business, which r equires peop le to burn the candle at both ends. “It’s har d to answer witho ut sounding l ike I ’ve g ot a n a xe t o grind, becau se I don’t in an y way, but I’ ve alw ays t hought Aus tralia has had a different attitude to age in advertising,” says Bevins. He re calls bei ng a y oung cop y- writer in New York and attending a funct ion f or th e New Yo rk Ar t Director’s Club, where he was sur- prised at the number of senior cre- atives. It left him with a sense that people in the US got into advertis- ing and stayed. That s aid, Bevi ns th inks th ere’s been a swing back the other way – he was made creative director of Ogilvy & Mather at 26, but the peo- ple in lead creative positions tend to be older. “I g et the impression that wh ile creative de partments seem to be fi lled wi th lot s o f you ng peopl e, young people a ren’t g etting put in the p ositions of r esponsibility a nd power in the way they used to be. I started in advertising in 196 3 BC (before-Bryce Co urtenay), I wa s eighteen a nd Bry ce wo uld ha ve been i n h is mid-twenties a nd h e was c reative di rector, so there has always been an attraction to youth- ful creative people,” he says. He’s right; a quick per usal through Campaign Brief’s creat ive rankings puts the a verage age of a creative director a t about 38, with the power base concentrated among the 35 to 45-year-olds. “I don’t know whether at my age and stage of life, I would get rich in an agency that I didn’t own,” sa ys Bevins. Having lectured at AdScho ol Bevins (circa 1982): “I don’t know whether at my age and stage of life, I would get rich in an agency that I didn’t own” MARCH /APRIL 2 008 recently, Be vins was a stonished by the quality of the s tudents. He left the lecture thinking that if he want- ed to start another agency he would give a group of young graduates the cash to sta rt their own agency and leave them to it. Warren Brown , wh o co- founded BMF Sydney just over a decade ago when he was 38, considers himself lucky to have gone out on his ow n, saying he wasn’t par ticular ly employable. “I didn’t really embrace authority and I d idn’t r eally l ike being t old what to do. If you are doing a good job, s ome a gencies might p ut up with that for a little while when you are young, they just put it down to being young and boisterous. As you get a b it o lder y ou t end t o c ome across a s being an old pain in the arse,” he says. The av erage a ge o f th e cre ative departmen t at BMF is in the late 30s, but when it comes to what age is considered ‘old’ in advertising, he thinks it depends on whom you talk to: “If you talk to younge r people, they would think anyone over the age o f forty-five i s pretty ancient, and if you talk to people who have been in the business for a while over fifty-five is getting on a bit.” He dispels the idea that older cre- atives bu rn ou t, s aying i t’s more likely they just get bored: “I’m not saying this about myself, or anyone I know, but as you get older some people fall into a rut and wake up a few years down the track and realise they h aven’t r eally moved t heir career o n, which p uts t hem i n a dangerous p osition. A s [ AMV BBDO founder] David Abbott says, ‘you d on’t g et b ad, you ju st get tired’. Ma ybe t hat’s wha t happens to a f ew pe ople w ho hav e b een doing it for a long time, they haven’t been able to manage them- selves long enough to ensure they have e nough energy a nd pas sion and enth usiasm for t he bu sines s over a long period of time.” While ther e’s a feelin g it’s easier to age g racefully i n mo re mat ure advertising markets like the UK and the US, these markets are also fac - ing the same problem. UK industry body, the IPA, put out an extensive study on the issue following Eu ropean Legis lat ion passed in October 2006 outlawing age d iscrimination. The r esearch (www.ipa.co.uk/documents/Ageism .pdf ) pi npointed t hat a lthough older people in the i ndustry are n’t always te chnically up to spe ed o r don’t want to work the long hours and weekends, t heir b readth o f experience, and emotional intelli- gence, far outweigh these nega- ? CAM PA IGN B R I E F 15
January February 2008
May June 2008