Agencies Are Desperate to Attract and Retain Young Talent, and The New York Times Is ON IT

By Patrick Coffee 

Today brought our very favorite kind of New York Times article: the cultural trend piece! In this case, the culture in question is that of…you know…advertising agencies.

Specifically, Sydney Ember’s admirable effort concerns the lengths those shops will go to in order to compete with the tech companies trying to pluck up all of our generation’s brightest minds. Does this sound familiar? The very headline of the piece mentions beanbag chairs, hence our AWESOME stock photo.

Check out all these office perks:

  • Ping-pong tables
  • Employee happy hours
  • Yoga classes and wine tastings and open seating plans
  • Free snacks (take that, Sprint)
  • Plants…on walls!

Things then take the inevitable dark turn, because “the advertising industry faces much deeper issues that cannot be fixed with cosmetic changes.”

What issues might those be? First, Ember notes that “About 25 percent of the industry makes less than $50,400 a year.” David Droga then appropriately reminds the NYT that “Beanbags and softball matches and a cool Twitter handle doesn’t make young people want to work at your office.”

OK, so it’s none of those things or the (alleged) sexism, and it’s definitely not the money, right??? No way.

This piece doesn’t focus on a solution to the problems laid out within. And that’s totally understandable, because the answer is both very simple and seemingly out of reach: a more livable starting salary; greater job security; more humanly reasonable hours; less predictably, depressingly douchey behavior from people who can’t see the difference between a fully-functioning business and a post-frat crash house that miraculously manages to stay open by selling impossible promises to gullible people.*

We can only speak for ourselves here, but we really don’t give half a shit about well-decorated offices or free granola bars.

Please do take a moment to read the comments as well. Some choice entries:

  • “If the ad agency business gets any younger it will be hiring kindergarten-age children. As it is, most everything they churn out is so juvenile, childish, and cartoonish.”
  • “Aww, so sweet that the ad agencies are busy recruiting youngsters who don’t want those jobs, while brusquely pushing aside us “old” experienced potential employees who do want to work in the biz.”
  • “I worked with an agency in Connecticut that had a chef on staff making lunch and cookies for client meetings, an in-house bar for gathering after work and showers for those of us who daily ran during the noon hour – it was 1980.”
  • “Agencies have it all wrong, young is neither better not worse- it’s just…young. Why not look at talent – a copywriter who knows how to write, a strategist who has the knowledge of the clients product and can make an actual case for a certain media buy. An account exec who is more than a walking laptop – someone who understands the creative and why it works then is able to actually sell it. “
  • “Agencies beware… This articles reads like the 2012 GOP autopsy report.”
  • “Think about it: a non-marketer, Martin Sorell, is the highest paid marketer in the world. Why would someone worth their salt want to become an account coordinator in an unequal environment like that?”
  • “The advertising industry’s primary problem is not recruiting Millennials. At this point, the industry is unable to retain people of any age who possess real talent.”
  • “We don’t want to work in advertising because we don’t want to spend our lives trying to sell folks stuff they don’t need or worse stuff that is very bad for them.”

Those are some legitimately relevant opinions!

*No agency we know of is really like that, but please feel free to provide examples.