MGH Is No Little Shop of Horrors

ATLANTA “Sweatshop conditions at America’s advertising/PR agencies must end.”

That’s the headline on a full-page ad scheduled for the national edition of The Wall Street Journal tomorrow to promote MGH Advertising in Baltimore. The ad positions the independent shop as an exception to the oppressive work conditions that exist at other agencies.

“The best place to work produces the best work,” said Andrew Malis, the shop’s president. “That’s our mantra.”

The ad depicts an advertising executive asleep at his desk. Text exploits many of the stereotypes of the ad business, such as long hours in a small office cubicle with impossible workloads, sacrificed lunch breaks and undrinkable coffee.

“You might expect conditions like these in some Third World country,” the ad copy reads. “But the truly shocking thing is, this is happening right now—right here in America.

“Beyond the glittering lobbies of some of the nation’s biggest agencies is a world they don’t want you to see. Where art directors and copywriters, burned out from too many late nights, turn to award show books for ideas like junkies in search of a fix.

“The problem, most experts agree, stems from a desire by agency management to wring obscene profit margins out of clients. Hire as few people as possible, pay them as little as possible and make them work as much as possible has been the agency manta for decades now.”

The ad explains that MGH employees are not subjected to such treatment and urges companies to hire the shop to help “stop the vicious cycle of agency abuse.”

The ad in the newspaper’s new weekend Saturday edition is the third MGH has run in the publication since the beginning of the year. The previous two, in the Jan. 4 and Jan 11 issues, appeared only in the Baltimore/Washington, D.C., edition of the paper. The shop plans to run three additional ads in the regional edition during the first quarter, Malis said.

“We hope to land a big client, someone who shares our values,” he said.

The shop hasn’t landed that client yet, but traffic on its Web site tripled after the first ad ran, Malis said. He also received a significant amount of resumes from ad executives, he said.

MGH employs 65 people and has annual billings of about $60 million, Malis said.