I was thinking yet again about the downward slope of creativity and money/fun in the advertising industry the other day and a thought occurred that seemed unpleasantly reminiscent of the days I spent studying for my A-Level in Economics.
If you take an employee group and start to pay them less, reduce the efficiency and scope of the tools they work with and make them work harder but produce less, you will surely be unable to attract the same standard of person to that workforce.
I’ve mentioned before that nominal creative salaries have changed little since the 1980s. However, in the 80s a couple of years of £100,000 could buy you a nice house in central London, whereas now it wouldn’t even get you the cheapest studio in the same area. So there’s more money to be made elsewhere, or, to put it another way, the level of compensation for anything unpleasant you might have to do has dropped considerably.
Then there’s the tools you have to work with. Budgets are much lower, which means that talent in other parts of the industry has become less available. Working on your movie becomes a much more attractive proposition to a rich director than the idea of a couple of months grinding away on a £300,000 budget that then gets picked to death by a thousand vultures. Talent is constricted in other areas, too, with people finding better, more lucrative avenues for their design, illustration or photography skills.
Finally, we have the very tempting idea of throwing away 95% of what you do. Clients like to see a lot of work for their money and that means 15 scripts, even if they are only going to make one (or, increasingly these days, none). A creative person has to get the enthusiasm up for that process, also knowing that the chosen script is very unlikely to be the ‘best’ one (not that it often was, even in the ‘good old days’).
So the idea that this industry will attract the same people to a lower salary where the work will be harder and less good is ridiculous..
And let’s see where that leads us: less talented people tempted=less good work=less respect for good work=less talented people tempted etc…
It’s happening right now.
If only I could remember the economicsy name for it, then I’d feel a whole lot better.