Advertising agencies are having a hard time finding people to work for them. On its surface, the statement sounds ludicrous. So let’s dig a little and see what we can learn. According to Campaign US, agencies are increasingly looking for seasoned talent in niche roles that are difficult to fill.
Sean Corcoran, U.S. CEO at Mediahub, said, “There just aren’t enough people who understand programmatic, addressable, certain analytics or paid social. The whole industry is going to have to adapt in a truly significant way over the next year.”
But it’s not just the labor shortage that’s leading to high turnover. Bill Kolb, chairman and CEO at McCann Worldgroup, said people may have exited the industry in search of “a more stable job” without having to worry about the “peaks and valleys of the agency business” after experiencing massive layoffs last year.
The crunch is pushing agencies to lean on staffing and recruitment firms and, in some cases, to cut back on the amount of work they take on.
Fired. Never Rehired.
The above text must be tough to read for someone who is looking for work inside an ad agency today. If that someone is a writer or art director over the age of 40, these are added complications. If that someone is also a white male, and over 40, I’m sorry to say that the odds are frustration and pain await.
There’s a churn in the agency business that need not be there.
Let’s look at one agency’s recent turnover, as an example. Ad Age is reporting that The Richards Group lost 15% of the agency’s staff and 40% of the agency’s revenue due to The Motel 6 Incident and another 15% of employees departed due to the pandemic.
The newly slimmed-down Richards Group now has around 330 employees, according to the article. The shop has hired 58 employees this year, of which it says 38% are “ethnically diverse” and 64% identify as women.
While it’s true that TRG is hiring again, it’s also true that the largest ad agency in Texas shed 30 percent of its workforce in a matter of months. Where are all those people working today?
Do Creative People Even Belong In the Ad Biz Anymore?
Once upon a time, back before THE INTERNET took over, creative people sought each other’s company inside the cozy confines of an ad agency. It was a decent way to make a living while exercising one’s creative muscles.
Let’s return to Sean Corcoran, U.S. CEO at Mediahub, who said, “There just aren’t enough people who understand programmatic, addressable, certain analytics or paid social.” I wonder, is there a big idea within 1000 feet of Corcoran’s call for specialists?
In case you were wondering, “addressability” is a form of personalization that optimizes relevance and timing to deliver effective brand engagement at scale.
A New Model: Talent On-Demand
Clients used to hire an agency because that’s where the talent was. Today, the best talent is dispersed across a wide work scape that includes the gaming industry, tech, and an explosion of Hollywood-style storytelling care of the new studios—Netflix, Apple, Hulu, and others in the streaming business.
Add to this new complexity, the rise of in-house creative departments and consulting companies with agency services on the menu. Also, factor in that the people with experience have either left the building or are isolated in their corner office.
All of this chaos in the system opens doors to new opportunities.
“We Are Rosie is a thriving (and growing) community of independent marketing experts, available on-demand to augment, complement, backfill, or accelerate your in-house team and capabilities. In the simplest sense, we are the people who are really good at getting you the expert marketing talent you need, when you need it.”
We Are Rosie is flourishing at the right time and for the right reasons. Stephanie Nadi Olson and her team have taken the basic recommendation engine that’s always been central to new business and gainful employment to a higher level and scaled it.