Think you’ve got it tough? Try working for a traditional advertising agency. Sure, Detroit is toxic and the publishing sector has been a graveyard for some time, but how’d you like to ply your trade in an industry that’s just now waking up to find itself totally outdated and in need of a complete and immediate overhaul? Now, imagine making that overhaul in the midst of the worst economy in decades.
The traditional advertising model (i.e. the 30-second TV spot, the full-page print advertisement and the 15 percent agency commission) is dead. Digital killed it. And, cost-conscious marketers are yanking millions, if not billions, of dollars out of traditional advertising and reallocating the cash to digital, word-of-mouth and public relations.
So, it came as no surprise to see an Adweek article entitled, "Ad Talent May Head Elsewhere.” Ah, but where?
I heard one industry analyst predict each of the Big Three advertising holding companies will lay off 30,000 employees this year. And, I attended a meeting just last week in which the client’s entire ad agency account team had been wiped out as part of a 5,000 person downsizing. Ouch!
These are jobs that will never be replaced. To make matters worse, though, these downsized souls possess talents that no other sector really wants or needs. Yes, a few may land at technology companies in search of creative talent and some may opt for professional services firms looking for the same sort of person. But, those gigs are few and far between. What will the hundreds of thousands of account managers, copywriters and media planners do? The Adweek article suggests architectural firms as a possible employment source. But, how much money is being spent on new construction these days? Or, advertising types could look overseas to Asia and Latin America, except those economies are tanking now as well.
So, what does a traditional advertising agency professional do? Beats me. But, it sure does give a whole new meaning to Mad Men.