The 'Swinging Gate' Syndrome is still alive and well at Canada's ad agencies. In fact, you
would be hard pressed to find any other industry
with as much employee turnover as the advertising industry.
By some estimates,
25 to 30 per cent of an agency's roster
leaves after completing only
one year of service, which puts
holes in an agency's lineup, impacts negatively on employee
clients and inevitably affects the bottom line.
Faced with these problems,
agencies must plow money into recruitment and
training for new employees -- since
poaching talent from other agencies is more expensive and
only drives up average salaries. Yet even when
faced with this high attrition rate, the people
who run Canada's ad agencies claim that retaining
employees is a
key priority for them, although the high turnover rate would suggest
otherwise. Another key factor
Since their salaries are earned by introducing
hot new prospects to agency heads, they're more than
willing to find a replacement for an employee
they've placed the week before. Another reason why agency people
move around is
the awards shows. When agency personnel win
awards, they perceive themselves as worth more on the market. Other
try to scoop them -- and the whole vicious circle will begin again.
The experts say that agencies can do a better job of retaining key employees by
developing and training their staff. Although it may seem like a waste of
resources to train employees who will eventually change agencies, advertising
agencies need to plan career paths for their employees, making certain they get the skills needed
to eventually assume leadership positions. Experts also recommend that
agencies shouldn't pigeon-hole staff. Research proves that copy writers and art directors don't usually change shops
for more money but for better creative opportunities.
Giving them opportunities to work on more creative accounts,
instead of the run of the mill ones, makes them more likely to stay.
And, of course, the bottom line is show the money. Demonstrate to employees how much they're worth by boosting
pay and benefits before they get another offer.
|Hot To Not So Hot |
It's a sad fact of agency life that an agency can be "hot" one day, then "not so hot" the next. As an example, let's take
the case of Downtown Partners. Last year, Downtown Partners was one red hot agency. Its advertising for
Forzani's Group's Sport Chek brand won numerous awards at domestic award shows. The agency
created Budweiser ads that
ran in the Super Bowl and it was responsible for the Alexander Keith ads that featured an off-the-wall
Scotsman who razzed everybody about their taste in beer. Its Bud Light Institute campaign was also lauded around the world.
Then, suddenly, the roof caved in!.
Alexander Keith's main actor was charged with possession of child
pornography and that campaign, of course, went totally down the drain. Then Downtown Partners heard that they were being passed over in an
agency review in favour of Calgary-based Venture Communications. And Anheiser-Busch passed the agency over for Super
Bowl ads for the past two years. Okay, so what duh heck happened?
Generally, agencies start out with an ambition to do great work. If they make it through the
first year or two and they start doing terrific work, it gets very hard to continue
doing great work because clashes often start. When people win awards, they grow huge egos and that
can cause the fur to fly -- particularly when the "artist" goes head to head with the "bean-counter". For
example: the "creatives" will demand paid vacations to go to Fiji for a bathing suit commercial while
the "suits" will book them into a downtown studio and ask them to "make do" with a sandbox. What's the
answer? It's a personnel issue. Make sure you
have people who know their limitations and know "which oar they must pull" in a team effort. Make
sure everyone knows the strategy and the eventual objective of each advertisement. And make
sure the budget is strictly adhered to, but without penny-pinching. Good luck. Enjoy!