Storm brews for ad industry if older talent gets overlooked


When Mark Denton started out in the advertising world over 40 years ago, little did he know he would end up working as an intern at one of London’s top agencies at the ripe old age of 65.

Enton made headlines in the advertising world earlier this week when he took on the role of paid intern at renowned independent agency St Luke’s, which counts brands like Ocado, Tanqueray gin, Bell’s whisky, KP and Butterkist.

The agency says it is not a publicity stunt and that a hidden camera team will not come out at the end of his six-month internship for a “big reveal”.

He says he was responding to a call on social media from Denton, who wanted to fill some gaps in his skills in areas such as account management, scheduling and new digital advertising formats. With a CV that ticked all the boxes, the internship – which is one of many up for grabs – was his to take.

Regardless of breaking the intern stereotype, at 65, Denton will also be one of the oldest people working in an industry overwhelmingly dominated by a much younger cohort.

Although he’s done over 500 commercials and won numerous awards, some might perceive him as too old-school, out of touch and outlived his usefulness in the industry, which, of course, is nonsense. absolute.

To borrow from WB Yeats and his 1926 poem Sailing to Byzantiumthe advertising industry is certainly not an industry for old people with their “unaging intellect”.

In the advertising industry, if you’re over 50, you’re often seen as a “ragged coat on a stick” and the door out is wide open for you.

Don’t slam it behind you and don’t make a fuss on the way out.

Ageism in Irish advertising is a very real thing, although many people in the industry, especially those over 50, find it hard to talk about.

Moreover, few agency heads will publicly admit this is a problem, pointing out that the industry is not much different from other sectors of the economy.

Privately, however, some admit that more needs to be done to tackle ageism.

A 2019 industry census by IAPI, the industry’s representative body, noted that half of employees working in advertising agencies were under 30, of which 6% were under 21. . Less than 10%, however, were over 50 years old.

Even then, it wasn’t too hard to figure out that many of them were either CEOs, CEOs, or creative directors of agencies they themselves had founded.

Another report on diversity and inclusion, carried out in 2021 by the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) in association with market research firm Kantar, also highlighted the scale of the problem.

In the Irish part of the study, overseen by the Association of Advertisers in Ireland (AAI), 29% of respondents did not think their company treated all employees the same, regardless of age, while 45% believed that age could really hinder their career prospects. .

This figure rose to 61% for respondents aged 45 to 54.

Depending on who you talk to in the industry, there are several reasons why ageism has become an issue. Within advertising, especially among the major international networks, the drive to cut costs is ongoing.

Often the senior executives who have been there the longest and earn the most are the first hit when the ax swings in their direction.

Others cite the lack of continued investment in senior management training and development as another major issue, while HR policies, skewed towards younger, more digitally literate employees who will work harder and for much less money, are also cited as possible reasons. .

This last point is one of the many reasons why churn in the industry – between 25% and 30% over the past 12 months – is so high, and why so many people are leaving the industry to pursue careers. other careers.

Burnout among young employees is also becoming a problem.

Add to that substantial wage inflation, increased competition from technology companies and this shortage of senior talent and you could say the perfect storm could be brewing in the background.

The AIM deadline is approaching

The closing date for entries for the Marketing Institute’s All Ireland Marketing Awards 2022 is Thursday 10 February. The awards will take place in May.

A total of 21 prizes will be up for grabs this year, including the All Ireland Marketing Champion prize, sponsored by Mediahuis, publisher of the Irish Independent. Last year’s winner was former Kerry CMO April Redmond, who is currently global vice president of branding at Unilever.

AIB hails The Tough

To mark AIB’s continued sponsorship of GAA, Rothco, part of Accenture Interactive, has rolled out the latest iteration of the bank’s The Toughest platform called Tough Can’t Quit.

Now in its seventh year, the latest campaign applauds the perseverance and dedication of GAA players, fans, families, coaches and supporters who embody the GAA. The campaign is currently airing on TV, social media platforms as well as outdoor (OOH).


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