I had a friend a while back who would always bend my ear about whether or not he should split up with his girlfriends.

I’d make it easy for him: was he going to marry them? No. So at some point he was going to split up with them. Why not make it as soon as possible and start looking for someone he preferred?

Which leads me to advertising.

You are my friend and the ad industry is his imperfect girlfriend. You will split up eventually.

Even if the industry does not change one iota from now (it will get much worse, believe me) the statistics are blindingly obvious: there are loads of creatives but very few CDs. This means that as you make progress there will be fewer of you left. Some will fail to make the grade, others will dislike the business, others will get married, move abroad, bum the agency cat and spend seven years in Pentonville etc.

Coupled to this is the ageism: advertising regards the over-forties as geriatric and the over fifties like people who should be wetting themselves in a wipe clean plastic chair while a truculent ‘carer’ cleans Jaffa Cake sludge from the front of their sta-prest pajamas.

Troupled (it’s like coupled but involves a third element. I just invented it) to this is the current fashion for ad agencies to cut costs by employing cheap youngsters to do jobs that used to require a senior. To put it bluntly, few people in advertising give the first, second or third toss about whether an ad is 6/10 or 9/10 anymore, so they’re hardly going to shell out another hundred grand to get the latter, not when the holding company wants its kilo of flesh. Most ads are shit so why does it matter if they’re cheap shit? To the people in charge it doesn’t. IT DOESN’T. You wish it did. You came into the industry thinking it did, BUT IT DOESN’T.

Quapled (see above; four elements) to this is the fact that the pay now stinks. If you’re a junior or middleweight now you are like the bloke who has turned up to the party at 5am, when everyone else has got pissed, laid or the nightbus home. There you stand, explaining how you got lost and had to ask for directions at a service station run by idiots but no one cares. Yes, this party had plentiful beauties from the opposite sex, copious amounts of pure-yet-unaddictive drugs, gallons of vintage Salon and millions of Almas caviar canapes but IT’S ALL FUCKING GONE. The seventies and eighties boys and girls boned, hoovered, quaffed and munched the lot, leaving a little for the nineties guests and not much for the noughties. The well is now drier than a good Martini. This means that whatever you earn from here on in will not be enough for you to retire on at the age of 50ish.

So do the maths: to retire with a decent sum you have to work till you’re 65 in an industry that will almost certainly kick you out in your forties.

You see? You need an out. You need something else to do; an alternative money-making scheme. Yes, the very few will CD themselves to untold riches or create a start-up that will allow them to do the same but this will be around 1% of the total, if that.


Don’t say I didn’t warn you.