I have written the odd post decrying the current state of advertising. I have lamented what I considered to be slumps in its quality, financial offerings and ability to satisfy to the extent it used to.
But an article in this weekend’s Guardian Magazine has made me think that I could be aiming my blame in the wrong direction.
The above article explains that the demise of our industry is just one symptom of a bunch of wider problems that are fucking over the entire middle class:
The increasingly competitive nature of middle-class life and the decrease in job security; Margaret Thatcher’s opening up of the classic middle-class professions, such as university teaching, to market forces; the slow decline of the great state and corporate bureaucracies; the downgrading of middle managers by new business ideologies. These shifts, conclude Gunn and Bell, have left “few if any areas in which middle-class people work untouched”.
Stephen Overell, associate director of the Work Foundation, says that “In the middle-class workplace, employees’ autonomy and discretion have collapsed dramatically compared with 20 years ago. Software is standardising work. There are more procedures and guidelines, more surveillance. People at the top end are doing OK, but the rest feel that their working lives are getting worse.” Middle-class employment, you could say, is becoming more like that long endured by the working class.
Does that sound familiar? Added to that is an overall job insecurity, a requirement to work harder for less money and an inability to afford things that were readily available to people in similar jobs in the 90s.
I spoke to a freelancer recently whose day rate equated to the salary he received fifteen years ago. And of course, that salary would have bought far more in 1995.
So it’s not just advertising.
And although I was right, I was wrong to suggest it was our industry that was heading down the lav all on its own.
For those of you who agree that advertising is not what it once was, the alternatives are not much better.
Where is the real fun? Not in the same place as the real money.
Is this a long-term trend that is shunting the vast majority towards harder work and less pleasure/job satisfaction? Have too many industries with excess money been found out and made to tighten their belts in order to satisfy the principles of sequential capitalism?
Then again, what right do any of us have to a fun job with tons of cash?
Buddha says that life is dukkha (suffering, change and being dependent on other things).
I guess we’ve got to suck that one up too.