She Concurs With Donny: Fork Over the Cash

I applaud the comments by Donny Deutsch in “Generation X’d Out” [Art & Commerce, June 28]. As a proud member of this generation, I agree it’s time the agencies took a look at their pay scales, think outside of their comfort zone and open their eyes to where some of the talent actually is.
Consistently, I have been shocked, not only by the low pay offered by agencies, but also the industrywide lack of interest in nurturing and growing their employees. Case in point: In 1992, my sister, with a degree in marketing, started at a major Los Angeles agency at a paltry $15,000 a year. She spent several years working her way up to account supervisor by hopping agencies to gain titles and raises before taking a client-side position last year at double her agency salary.
After researching my options, I chose a more lucrative route as a media rep. This offered not only five to 10 times better pay, but the entire agency experience–from creating a market strategy to designing ads and post-campaign analysis. Best of all, working in the media allowed me to participate in both the account and creative sides. At an agency, it’s one or the other.
Three years ago, I tried to switch to the agency side with 10 years of broadcast, print, direct marketing and online advertising experience; the agencies snubbed me. In their eyes, I was only a salesperson. So, I took my experience and started a successful online company.
Moral of the story? The talent is there, but the agencies are too pious to attract it. In fact, they blatantly disregard nonagency candidates. This is not just my own experience but that of many with whom I’ve spoken. Gen Xers are not fools. We go where we are appreciated. We follow the opportunities. We work for companies that challenge us and with whom we can grow. To attract us, agencies must stop condescending to anyone who didn’t come up through the agency system. Instead, consider the wealth of experience and talent a candidate has cultivated because they were not restricted by agency hierarchy, segmentation and rules. And then pay market value.
Laura Dawn Lewis
Chief executive sensualist
Sensuality, the Couples’ Co.
Beverly Hills, Calif.