Clients who complain about a lack of talent and creativity in Adland have nobody to blame but themselves because too frequently they are not willing to pay for it.
That was the gist of a commentary that 4As President Nancy Hill wrote in The Wall Street Journal’s CMO Today column Tuesday.
She referenced a comment by Unilever’s Keith Weed at Cannes this year that he has “genuine concern because there’s never been such competition for creativity.”
That was the starting point for Hill’s argument that Adland isn’t keeping pace with other industries in compensating top talent entering the workforce after college -- at least partly because clients aren’t willing to pay adequate fees.
She noted that average student loan debt is nearly $30,000 while entry-level ad jobs pay between $25,000 and $28,000 in yearly salary. Meanwhile, tech companies like Google and Microsoft offer starting salaries in the $80,000 to $90,000 range, while consulting firms offer $70,000-$75,000.
“If you were a recent grad with almost $30,000 in student loan debt, where would you go?” Hill asked.
“I don’t mean to point a finger at Unilever or any other client. All clients demand the best talent on their business, but, generally speaking, aren’t willing to pay for it. Extended payment terms, unreasonable indemnification clauses, incentive plans that don’t incentivize, FTE negotiations on hours in a year all add up to a system that is broken. We’ve made it so complicated that, at best, it takes three extra staff members just to manage a contract.”
Marketers often ignore guidance that the 4As and the Association of National Advertisers have offered on what constitutes fair agency compensation, Hill wrote.
“All the guidance in the world won’t help if we don’t find a way to work together to create an economic environment in which we can pay reasonably well to attract, retain and provide ongoing learning for the very best and brightest that our clients and their brands deserve.”