In every industry, other than Hollywood and Advertising, age and experience are highly valued
I don’t even want to attempt to dissect Hollywood here. But advertising? Why?
It seems to me there are two broad reasons – one has to do with the fickle nature of our industry, and the other is more sinister: the way that big holding companies have structured their business model to maximize profit.
The fickle thing is just that: what better way to convince clients you’re not a bureaucratic outpost of a far-flung global communications conglomerate, fixated on nothing other than shareholder value than to trot out a bunch of gender comfortable 23-year, old creative directors.
As we all know, nothing says “tuned-in post-modern genius” quite like hipsters with a subtle and profound appreciation of coffee.
The business model – and we speak about this with some authority because we spent years at some of the largest, ugliest multi-nationals – is more sinister.
It’s quite simple: they charge clients outlandish amounts of money for heavyweight Creative Director time. But then, they hire young, well-cast but not entirely heavyweight talent, pay them lightweight salaries. And charge heavyweight fees.
And when that young talent inevitably matures into more senior talent, and they reach their 40’s, they’re cycled out of the industry & replaced by the latest crop of fresh young things – just when they’re maturing into seasoned crafts-people.
Seriously, how many functioning creatives do you know over the age of 45? The 45-year-old advertising creative person has gone the way of the White Rhino, flip phones, and Matthew Perry’s film career.
A copywriter is not a pop star. You don’t lose your skill along with the sheen of your youth. It’s a craft, for Christ sakes, and like all crafts-people, you become BETTER with age!
Yeah, you have lots of groovy ideas when you’re young but (a) it’s about a lot more than having groovy ideas: you have to sell & execute those ideas too & (b) you have lots of groovy ideas when you’re old.
It takes years to round yourself and learn the craft of creating, selling and executing advertising ideas.
It took me at least 35 years to work the punk out my system.
To learn to see things through the eyes of the people who are paying me to solve their problems.
To understand that when a job lands on my desk, it’s about a whole lot more than me and my need to express myself.
To learn to cope with rejection.
To understand that it’s about wrapping my head around what is inevitably an enormously complex problem – with multiple stake-holders – and delivering more than one simple, compelling solution.
Then having the poise and confidence to help the group agree on the right solution.
And then having the knowledge, experience, and nous to deliver those solutions on time and under budget.
At 45 plus, you no longer have a point to prove. And much like Andreas Pirlo in his last few years at Juventus, you’re more of a team player, quite content to hang deep and play the intelligent ball.
So, when some number cruncher devalues your craft and reduces it to a line item, it’s both upsetting and disturbing.
It’s upsetting to see so many of our talented friends and colleagues discarded to the garbage heap of advertising because they’re just not down enough with the Kulture.
And it’s disturbing to see the long-term affect this has had on the industry.
Which is why we so treasure our independence here at the Builders Arms; We value craft. We value learning. We value experience. And we’re not going to pull the wool over your eyes.
We set our own agenda. We created a fluid business model that allows us to access a very deep talent pool. We choose the people we believe are best suited to the job at hand. The very best talent London has to offer, regardless of any ‘ism.’ Lots of tattoos, lots of beer bellies, lots of youth, lots of grizzled old bastards.
And we then draw on our own experience – I think it’s something like 100 years collective experience across five continents – to guide and nurture the project.
We’re not going to sell you a bill of goods. We’re going to give you what, in our experience at least, qualifies as very hard working, lovingly crafted work.