To No One's Surprise, Morale Sucks In the Ad Industry

As if we needed a study to prove what we all knew over 20 years ago; working in advertising totally sucks, it's not fun anymore, the pay stinks, egos are out of control, sexism is rampant, you're done when you hit 40 and all anyone cares about is awards. 

So, yeah, we don't need a study to tell us things suck. But, alas, we have one. 

Courtesy of Campaign US -- which has decided it'd be fun to start measuring the industry's misery a couple years ago  -- it's been determined that 47% of people in the ad business are not happy. Specifically, 31% rate their morale low and 16% rate their morale dangerously low. That's an increase of 36% over last year when 26% said their morale was low and 8% said it was dangerously low. 

So why do things suck and why are they getting worse? This finding isn't new either. It's the dickheads at the top. Seventy three percent of respondents blame leadership for low morale followed by 45% who say it's lack of advancement, 38% who are dissatisfied with the work, 13% who feel it's the lack of diversity and 14% who blame it on their company's performance. 



And what is the result of all this low morale? Sixty-three percent of those who state their morale is low are looking for new jobs. Sadly there is no stat revealing the degree of masochism in those simply believing a different ad agency will solve their morale problems. 

Of the findings and their obviousness, Campaign US Editor Douglas Quenqua said, "These findings are sobering, but, sadly, not surprising. Conversations with people at all levels of the industry reveal widespread frustration and even despondence about the industry and their own jobs. This is a serious issue for advertising, particularly as it fights with other industries for tech and creative talent." 

Those with high morale -- yes, they exist -- cite work/life balance 63% of the time as the reason for their higher morale. Clearly these people have opted out of the ego-centric rat race that is the ad agency and found a way to make things work without going crazy.  

For me, the solution was always simple. Just do your f*cking job. Quit your bitching and focus on the positives. Yes, believe it or not, there are positives in the ad business. Seek them out and it will make a world of difference.  

In terms of who the survey respondents were, 61% work for a creative agency, 13% for a brand and another 13% for a media agency. The rest were split between social platforms, publishers and freelancers. The survey, which received 294 responses, was conducted online during the month of September 2016.

4 comments about "To No One's Surprise, Morale Sucks In the Ad Industry".
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  1. marlene mrakovcic from Independent Consultant, October 26, 2016 at 7:56 a.m.

    Having spent close to 20 yrs in the ad business I agree that the study findings are not surprising. Still, as no one seems particularly interested in making any changes, the message clearly hasn't landed, yet. As for "just doing the f*cking job and stop bitching", I believe it's exactly this attitude that prevents any meaningful changes to the calcified reporting & working structures that are an embarrassment for any 21st century communications business.

  2. Brian Nakamoto from Tightrope Interactive, Inc. replied, October 26, 2016 at 4:36 p.m.

    I agree with marlene, especially based on "Seventy three percent of respondents blame leadership for low morale followed by 45% who say it's lack of advancement, 38% who are dissatisfied with the work…" Leadership can control these three factors. Telling people to suck it up only exacerbates the first and third responses.

  3. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, October 26, 2016 at 6 p.m.

    The columnist's name Richard Whitman is also the birth name of Don Draper in the Mad Men TV series about advertising. Is this column a joke?

  4. Richard Whitman from MediaPost, October 26, 2016 at 9:39 p.m.

    I am real! Richard Whitman is real! This is not a joke! ;)

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