A place full of spectacular ideas, food & beverages, events and after work parties; who wouldn't want to work in a place like an advertising agency? People all over the world idolize this ever-changing and ever-thriving advertising field. Living the life of a creative artist sounds incredible, doesn't it? But there's much more to it than what meets the eye.
As Tyrion Lannister from Game of Thrones once mentioned
But I say, some things just cost more than others. Working as a creative in an ad agency, for instance. A major chunk of the nation's youth is attracted toward this field for the fact that it lets one's imagination soar high. Our profession exists solely to serve the clients. In advertising, the client is the king. And we, his servants. Okay, "Servants with creative minds". There goes a popular saying - "Everything that glitter is not gold". Embrace yourself, I am about to uncover the shrouded side of the advertising world.
1. Fast-paced lifestyle – If you are already sipping down cups of coffee throughout day & night, then you surely know what I am talking about. Deadlines, demanding clients, altering briefs, and confusing projects. It's a never-ending maze. If you want a life and a family, one in which you actually spend time with your spouse and children and have time for interests other than advertising then the clear answer is working at an advertising agency is bad, bad choice. The well-known American drama series - Mad Men is a lie. To the fella who stated that you should watch that series to get the insights of an ad world, giving you an absolutely ridiculous idea. Mad Men is an homage to a time long gone!
2. More of a glamour, rare of a talent – Here, the quality of talent is highly capricious. Some woefully ham-fisted people manage to cling to their jobs via politicking or other means. The top 5–10% of the talent tend to write their own cheque and unfortunately, they don't stay long term.
3. Working your ass off – Being creative comes with a tag of ‘overworking'. There is never enough time. At a typical advertising agency, account managers try to sell as many campaigns as they can and pull more clients as compared to their competitors. The job gets tougher, more demanding yet the pay does not seem to ever go up in an anticipated way. There is a lot of stress, because when the economy declines the first thing many companies do is reduce the advertising budget, and there is a lot of competition. You start your day just like any other employee at some other company do. To meet the deadline, sleeping in and not heading home for 2-3 days is an unexceptional thing. On the other hand, if you decide to work as a freelancer alongside to earn two more pennies, things get messier than ever.
4. The pressure of being creative (Every. Single. Day!) – Being a creative whose work is to put nothing but the best out there, you must come up with ‘never-seen', ‘never-done' ideas on regular basis. And that can birth an artist's worst enemy – creative block. Life in an agency is a bell curve of heaven to hell. This famous industry is infamous for its low salaries.
5. The struggle of getting the credit - You've stayed late, skipped taking lunches and worked over the weekends. Finally, the project is finished. *Drumrolls* ... just not for you! Not getting recognition for work or having someone else to get the credit is a common tale of most of the ad agencies. The fact that some other lad is taking the credit of your sleepless nights and stressful days, become indigestion. Most agencies have two different generations - 1. Young & immature people 2. Old people performing supervision. So, if you're in the middle of these two, it's a huge challenge to deal with various personalities at the same time.
6. Holiday? Under no circumstances! – The calendar on your wall shows a red mark, for the nation, it's a holiday, for creative people working in an ad field like me; it's just another day of the week. "Happy xyz day, JK! How are you spending it? Wait, what the hell? You are working today? But I thought everyone had today off." I forgot the count of the times I had this same conversation with my friends and family in my 1 decade of experience in graphic designing. Moreover, being a creative director is like the thirteenth month during drought. Don't be in a delusion that we get extra paid for working on holidays. Nada! The only advantage we have is that we don't have to be out there and fight the crowd on such days.
7. A battle to win your throne - An advertising environment is very specific to a certain personality type. This profession has a bizarre range of people working within it, from button-down suits who are the front-line salespeople, to sandal-wearing creatives who are the main product. Everyone here is running a race with hands full of hurdles to make it difficult for others.
Somebody sees something from a different perspective or behaves in a certain way because you connected your client to their customers through a spotless marketing campaign. That's heavy. It's not easy. It's hard, thoughtful, important work that happens from sleepless nights, playing both sides of the ball and not backing down to go easy. It starts with mediocrity and goes south from there. And unfortunately, it happens to the best of us. What is it like? Working in ad field might make one wacky, but on a lighter note, it's worth it!
What are your experiences? What other perceptions do you hold about the advertising world? Let the comments break in…JK