What I've learned about the advertising industry
Today marks my one-year anniversary of starting my first job in advertising. It's been a crazy fast year and I've probably learned more in the last 12 months than I did during my four years of university. So, here are a couple of things I’ve learned about ad land.
1. The lead agency model is KAK
If you're not in advertising, you won't understand this one, but if you are, you'll feel me. The lead agency model is pretty shit for a number of reasons. The first of which, is control. There's always a discord between the lead agency and the digital/OOH/activation/etc. agency, about who is actually in control of what. There's a constant struggle between who is in charge of what and this constantly leads to delays. What’s more, if you’re not the lead agency, you can’t ever have a relationship with the client, which means there is no way of you ensuring that your ideas, and opinions are heard by the people that matter.
2. There is no such thing as "business hours"
Yes, there are times when you are contractually required to be in the office. But these are by no means your working hours. In reality, your working hours are from when you start a project, to when you finish a project. Sure, you can eat/sleep/cry for a bit during that time, but you're never not available to work.
3. Time tracking is a ball-ache
Yes, it's something pretty much everyone in the working world has to do, but that doesn't mean it doesn't suck.
4. Step up or be ignored
The world of advertising is not one in which you can merely coast along quietly. Eventually you'll become excess baggage and then it's goodbye. If you're not pushing to progress yourself, your agency and your clients, then what is the point of coming to work?
There are so many fucking acronyms. ROI, CRM, CCS, CSD, CMO, AE, etc... it never ends and I learn a new one every day.
6. Client Service people are a special breed
How one can spend every day dealing with clients is something I will never understand. Sure, there are some really awesome clients, but as far as I can tell, they aren't the norm.
7. South Africa still doesn't "get" social.
Most campaigns are limited to Facebook, Twitter, sometimes Youtube, sometimes Instagram. In those campaigns, the same copy and images are used across each of those platforms and sent out at the same time. I'll admit, I've been guilty of this, but it's really a industry-wide mentality that needs to change.
8. The Influencer seeding model is stale
Seriously guys, if giving free shit to the same bloggers that everyone else has given free shit to is the best idea you can come up with, you need new ideas. Yes, it can work, but the notion of "influencers" is tired, and brands should start focusing on building partnerships with collaborators to create content that will benefit, and engage their audience, rather than sending a blogger some free stuff and a press release in the hopes that they'll blog about it.
9. Awards don't matter (but really they do).
A lot of people you speak to in the industry will flippantly dismiss The Bookmarks or The Loeries as rigged and a bit of a circle-jerk, but god damn, they ARE going to enter every single one they can. Awards are not just an acknowledgement of exemplary work from the past year, but also an excuse for ad people to get shit faced on tequila and ahem... contraband, on their agencies dime.
10. It's exciting
Working in advertising is stressful. It's draining. It's exhausting. It can even be depressing. But damn, it's exciting. Especially as someone who works in a digital agency, developing the next best way to get people to buy shit can actually be really exhilarating at times. Sometimes, certain aspects of working in advertising can be soul destroying, but almost every day, I wake up in the morning, pumped to go to work.