4 March 2019

What's the Life of an Advertising Person Worth?

By Pippa Chambers

In an open letter to the industry, satirical commentator Roy Morgan has called on the Media Federation of Australia (MFA) and industry leaders to “lay down the law” and help fight injustices such as weekend work, “severe” low pay and stress – all as a result of “batshit clients”.


AdNews was sent the open letter of concern last night for the attention of ‘industry leaders’.


Named after the founder of the research house, Roy Morgan is as an anonymous industry commentator that claims to speak on behalf of the younger people in the industry, Morgan’s parody Facebook page was set up in 2017 and has more than 5,000 adland fans from businesses such as REA, Val Morgan, Ikon, MediaCom, Verizon and more.


The Betoota Advocate-style approach is celebrated across the industry and he even took part in a Q&A, in partnership with NGEN.


It’s thought that Roy Morgan works within an agency in Melbourne or Sydney.


This time, he has taken a somewhat serious approach by highlighting how the industry is “destroying” itself from the inside, how staff are being turned into “casualties” in the battle to the bottom line and how leaders need to stick up for staff.


“If clients don’t want to pay for the blood and sweat of your staff, they sure as shit don’t deserve their tears,” Morgan said.


“A dollar is worth a dollar, but what I ask you all as leaders is, what are we worth? What is the life of an advertising person worth?”


In response to Roy Morgan's commentary, CEO of the MFA, Sophie Madden, highlights the positive work the MFA is doing and tells AdNews that media agencies play a critical role in growing clients’ businesses and the organisation agrees that they should be "valued and paid fairly for their work".


"Fair pricing is achieved when we, as an industry, highlight our ROI-driving capability," Madden says.


"That is key reason for the MFA shifting our focus to marketing and media effectiveness by demonstrating the value we bring to our clients. We are achieving that through a number of initiatives, including the relaunch this year of the MFA Awards to showcase effective work that delivers client outcomes and through ongoing collaboration with our fellow industry bodies to improve how advertisers and media agencies work together."


The impassioned Roy Morgan letter may frustrate some industry leaders within the industry who say they are working towards building greater cultures and creating positive work and life balance. AdNews has spoken to some leaders who claim they have no such issues in their businesses, however, they can be unaware of what goes on at other levels of the business.


After AdNews published "Adland Secrets: Confessions of a media agency newbie", a couple of CEOs complained, saying how it was "tainting the industry", whereas one complainant is the very boss of the agency described.


The churn and burn mentality, particularly in agencies, has been around for decades, with AdNews knowing of many cases within the sector of tears, tantrums and stress. However, many agencies have been making strides to improve this by increasing workplace flexibility and upping the focus on mental health, mindfulness and activities such as meditation and improved access to counselling.


However, this is not enough according to Roy Morgan.


See the full letter below:


We are a compassionate and uncompromising industry. We are resilient and unrelenting.


I’m writing this, because you need to save us. You need to save me.


As an industry we are destroying ourselves from the inside, like a virus.


Please, I beg of you, stop turning us into casualties of your battle to the bottom line.


Stop doing whatever it takes to win a client.


I know we all have global overlords and numbers to hit, but the lower we go, the harder the burden gets for us all to carry, and the harder it is for the industry to survive. I’m over seeing the smart ones go. I’m over the initiation by fire for the severely underpaid.


As the leaders of the industry, support us. Fight for us. Because you set an example for the future leaders.


No one needs to work weekends to prove they can control their batshit client, no one needs to cry in the toilets because a grown man who knows better yelled at them over the phone.


Enough is enough. We are a business, and they don’t want us to make money, they want us to be cheaper to save their dwindling bottom line.


We are a not a profit reduction, we are people with lives, loves and you, leaders.


If clients don’t want to pay for the blood and sweat of your staff, they sure as shit don’t deserve their tears.


Unite and agree. Save the industry, but more importantly save our young people. United by stress is not our creed anymore, I’ve seen tomorrow’s people lost to crawling grey of anxiety and depression.


If a client doesn’t see our value, and doesn’t think we deserve to be paid for what we do, stop.


They can do it themselves. If we need to pitch and battle, let’s fight on ideas, not price - let’s submit that first.


A dollar is worth a dollar, but what I ask you all as leaders is, what are we worth? What is the life of an advertising person worth.


More importantly, I call out the Media Federation. Unite us, lay down the law and let’s reign the wolves at the door in. If they don’t want who we are, or what we sweat, cry and bleed to give them- let them work the weekends.




What do you think of the letter? Should we even be listening to a group that technically remains faceless? Email us.


In Adland Secrets, a feature introduced a year ago in the AdNews magazine, industry execs expose the underbelly of parts of adland. In the latest edition we spoke with a junior working at a media agency who echoed some similar concerns.


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