Moonlighting is here to stay: how is the advertising industry tackling it? : Best Media Info


Moonlighting has always been there, it increased during the pandemic and is now here to stay. Companies like Swiggy, Cred, and Tech Mahindra have even allowed their employees to work on other projects after hours.

It has become the buzzword after “quiet resignation”, since Wipro fired 300 employees for accepting gigs from competitors while working full-time with the company.

Wipro executive chairman Rishad Premji called the moonlighting “outright cheating”.

Although it’s quite prevalent due to the pandemic-induced work-from-home culture, sat down with the experts to talk about the impact of moonlighting on the advertising and marketing industry.

Lloyd Mathias

According to Lloyd Mathias, business strategist and angel investor, this is the reality today since many young people want to earn money on the side.

“Sometimes they do side gigs that aren’t directly related to competitors of current companies, which most companies don’t approve of, but that’s fine. It should be okay, as long as the employee does not work with the competitor, there is no integrity problem,” he said.

Shripad Kulkarni

“Moonlighting will continue on the whole as it is a function of need or greed for additional income, which will always be there,” added Marcom adviser Shripad Kulkarni.

Rajesh Ramaswamy

While the most common reason attributed to the increase in the number of people working undeclared is to form an additional source of income, according to Rajesh Ramaswamy, founder of The Script Room and filmmaker at Coconut Films, the Moonlighting does not necessarily only translate into money. , it’s also about testing the waters and trying to explore other avenues.

He said: “Moonlighting has been happening since time immemorial, it’s not something new, and the reasons for it are way beyond money. In the advertising business people join for a reason, this industry is a place to find ways to express yourself but sometimes you feel like you can’t express yourself and that annoys people a bit so they accept business where they get some sort of satisfaction and relief, rather than putting all the pressure on just one job. If they don’t find satisfaction, they will look for other avenues.

However, the biggest problem, according to Ramaswamy, is that there is a huge disconnect in explaining work to people by over-promising them what they can expect from their work. He explained, “People join companies thinking they can find important avenues for productivity and when that doesn’t happen they naturally want to pursue other avenues. Therefore, they go black. Therefore, it is not only a question of money.

Moonlighting has always existed in the advertising and marketing industry. This has been standard in the advertising industry, especially with creatives and film crews. However, the majority of creative people made an effort to keep their extracurricular activities secret, especially those who worked full-time in agencies. Often employers are aware of this, but only report it if it affects regular full-time employment and breaches contract with clients.

But incidents of moonlighting have accelerated in the last two years of the pandemic, according to Mathias. He said that in the advertising space, some moonlighting was happening even before, especially from creatives and copywriters, but the volume has picked up more lately.

Kulkarni argued that there has been a lot of moonlighting in the advertising industry, and in many cases this is somehow known to all parties involved. As long as the employer’s work does not suffer and there is no client confidentiality issue, it’s ‘chalta hai’!

Although he commented, “Wandering cases of large-scale moonlighting are reported from time to time and then action is taken, but it’s mostly a quiet operation.”

He even pointed out that no one knows if he has diminished during the pandemic due to WFH culture. “The reason is that people don’t have time. The WFH has sparked a new way of working where working hours are more or intertwined with home and personal work,” he added.

Not only that, there is a new dimension to moonlighting after the pandemic. According to Kulkarni, employees who considered owning a start-up business took this opportunity to spend official time building it from the ground up.

Nirmalia Sen

Nirmalya Sen, Founder and CEO of The Rethink Company, believes moonlighting is more prevalent in larger companies with multi-level teams, and having a lean company structure for Rethink Company has helped them. to combat undeclared work.

He commented: “When we launched The Rethink Company, after observing firsthand the issues faced by established agencies with large, multi-level teams and the significant fixed costs that come with them, we were clear that we should we structure differently. There is also the fact that different projects, even for the same client, require very different skills. That’s why we operate with a small core of full-time employees supported on a fairly regular basis by freelance talent who bring a variety of skills. It helps us to be light, agile and versatile.

Additionally, the Covid-19 pandemic shifted offices to living rooms, which not only forced employees in the IT industry but also in the advertising industry to take side gigs to supplement their income.

Many advertising agencies actively encourage the pursuit of passion projects, and moonlighting is common in the industry. But people don’t always seek work elsewhere out of sheer passion. The moonlight temptation stems from the low salaries of advertising agencies, according to some experts.

This is something Ramaswamy also believes in. According to him, during the interview, the excessive promises made by the agencies are a problem. There is a lack of communication between the employee and the employer. Employers glorify working life and don’t implement it later, letting employees down.

“Agencies also need to think differently now. Gone are the days of expecting you to be loyal to one job and stick to one particular job. If a person moonlights and uses different ways to improve their skills, that shouldn’t be a problem,” he said.

However, Spatial Access founder and seasoned advertiser Meenakshi Menon has a different view. She believes this is an unethical process and should be stopped.

Sharing one such incident she witnessed closely related to moonlighting on her LinkedIn, she wrote, “I remember a few creative people at Lintas under Alyque were given the opportunity to quit their jobs and become consultants. The rules were very clear. If you were on staff (full-time duty), you couldn’t work at another agency. You could do everything else in your free time or in exceptional cases even at work. That’s why there were so many actors, musicians, and artists working with the agency during its heyday.

“Decades later, I was leading a pitch for a PSU client whose case had mandated a heavy focus on Indian language. A Hindi writer pitched ideas for two competing agencies. The two agencies presented him as an independent specialist but an integral part of their creative team. The customer was shocked. Neither agency got the job. Media agencies also have undeclared workers who “consult” clients regardless of the competitive environment. An agency’s data subscriptions are used to schedule “personal” clients. It’s disgusting and it needs to stop.

According to Mathias, moonlighting is not illegal as long as the person does not work for the competitor.

He said senior creative executives need to discuss issues with side hustle. Companies should be open to dialogue with employees and should agree if they seek an opportunity.

“So new brands recognize the importance of this, as Swiggy has a lot of part-timers and delivery people who can do what they want to do after hours, until ‘they’re breaching company confidentiality,’ he said. .

While moonlighting is here to stay in the A&M industry, the only way to make it exist in symbiosis with regular paid jobs is to be loyal to employers, not work on competing brands of your agencies, and to comply with the non-disclosure agreement.

Sen’s Rethink does not work with independent strategic planning talent unless it is unavoidable. As a company, they work with full-time freelance freelancers who are not employed by another agency. “This is particularly helpful as it allows us to work with senior talent, including former MNT/ECDs that we otherwise couldn’t afford to pay at this stage.”

And if the above is not possible, they hire freelance talent employed by other agencies, only working with talent who does not work for brands competing with the brand in question, Sen added.

Mathias concluded that companies are trying to have more modern working practices that ensure flexibility both in terms of working in the office or working from home. Also, companies should give better opportunities to employees.


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