Monday, March 02, 2009

Mind The Gap

Every year, top headhunters The Talent Business produce the authoritative guide to what everyone in the industry is earning, which they provide to Agency management. However, I twisted the arm of one of the lovely people over there and got them to send me a copy.

Are you on the right amount?


Looks like salaries in Above-The-Line have hardly moved since last year. Though they could well be lower next year, what with the economy going the way it is...

Now here’s the table for pure Digital Agencies.


Holy Dropdown, Batman!

This is what caught my eye in the report - the hoooooooj gap between salaries for ATL and Digital.

Why do Digital Agencies pay their Creatives less? Is it justifiable?

And an interesting implication: a lot of Creatives in above-the-line Agencies right now are thinking that, for the future, it’s essential they get Digital experience - and are considering making the move across.

But is it a case of ‘gain some skills, drop some salary’?

38 comments:

Anonymous said...

It's not that surprising...ATL will always attract the top talent, and now most ATL agencies are getting decent digital creatives in to oversee online anyway. Surely, as a creative, you're much better off in an agency that does everything, as opposed to an agency that just does one thing? The salaries reflect this.

EGO said...

I work for a very big agency in Milan.
The agency I work for pay me: 700 euro and I'm working by one year.

A lot of guys like me, luckyless, work for free also six month befor having the first payment, 350 euro.

Please, hire me, if you need a junior copy :)

Alan Kittle said...

This chart reminds me of a line from Tequila Sunrise – a fairly forgettable Mel Gibson thriller (apart from Michelle Pfeiffer that is) where he plays a drug dealer. He and his buddies are watching the news and there's a report of a drug bust ceasing coke with a street value of $whatever million. "Man I'd love to be selling on that street" chirps Mel... I guess the point is, for an out-of-work Creative Director, that these salaries are not on offer now through any of the recruitment sites I'm looking on. So either these figures reflect creatives who are long in post, or I need to find the street these agencies are on!

Anca said...

Simon, digital agencies have no reason to invest in top creatives because the digital environment is not really suitable for advertising. It is pure marketing. Creative digital marketing. Europe seems to be several steps behind the US from this point of view – and I mean the entire Europe. When we have real professionals in this field, we’ll surely witness an increase in salaries.

From the artistic point of view, in the digital world a Graphic Designer is more important than an Art Director. No one needs websites that look like paintings. And even the GD needs totally different skills and has to be able to understand how various programming languages work. It’s one thing to design a Flash website and it’s a totally different experience to design a web 2.0 application.

Anonymous said...

digital numbers look right to me - i'm a cd in a digital agency and get roughly middle of the 65-100 amount quoted. i think the point about ATL cd's and creatives is that if you don't have a digital bent to your banana you won't have a salary at all fairly soon. doesn't mean you need to go work in a digital agency where budgets, clients and salaries are all smaller.

Anonymous said...

If you look in the school report in campaign this week and compare the amount digital agencies declare compared to ATL agencies then perhaps the wages are reflective of profits? AKQA for example posts £32mil while BBH declared £64mil; twice as much.

I work in purely digital at the moment but would like to work through media at some point. From the teams I know who have gone from my place to other places, having digital experience almost always means you are on the higher side of those wage scales.

Anonymous said...

As a digital creative, what I find far more interesting is that AKQA pockets 32m, while AMV, supposedly the biggest of the big ATL boys, only makes another 12m. Either AMV are getting stung or AKQA know how to do it way better.

The real issue here (AKQA'a figures aside) is that the monetisation of digital is still being established. They tend to bill on ratecard rather than retained fee or percentage of media spend, so that can make a big difference in either direction.

Also, I'd imagine they have far fewer 'showpony' accounts that can actually lose an agency money just so they can look creative. How much does The Economist cost AMV each year? And what about all those dubious charities they win all their awards on? I bet they don't pay much, if at all.

Sherlock Holmes said...

"It’s one thing to design a Flash website and it’s a totally different experience to design a web 2.0 application"

No shit!

HN said...

As a junior, you get paid a lot more if you take your first job in digital (around 23,000 instead of 18-19,000), get that experience, then cross back over to ATL for the next position (8 - 12 months later, with a suitably ATL book, and lots of trendy trendy run digital work) - therefore securing higher pay earlier, and offering the golden digital offering.

It can knock a good 12 months off that awful 'placement circuit' period too.

Risky, but it can work a treat.

Pen top said...

Fancy telling us about experiences breaking into the industry scamp?

Anonymous said...

Digital creatives who have moved to the agency where I work are so over-rated it's embarassing. Their ideas are nothing but c**p. But, seeing to be an agency moving with the times, everyone is still licking their arses. No fair.

Anonymous said...

Same at my place too.

There seems to be a new breed of "freelance team" who give up on looking for a proper job after having a couple of failed placements...

They're 100% above the line. 100% digital and 100% advertising that hasn't been invented yet.

In reality, they're shite at everything.

Apparently, it's the future.

Inklid said...

We've got creatives who went to digital agencies first and ones who went straight into ATL - and they're all as good/ bad as each other.

They have to meet the same creative standard our ECD sets out, and if they're no good they get fired. So far, there hasn't been a difference between the two.

The first 3 or 4 years are about learning the ropes. A good idea's a good idea. Innit?

Anonymous said...

is anyone going to the creative circle do tonight - i could use someone texting me the result for the category i've got some work in?

Anonymous said...

What about planners/acct management Scamp? Do the talent business produce a guide for the rest of the industry?

Honest John said...

the only thing i earnt this year was herpes.

completely off subject now.

but skittles have really shat on their own feet. they turned http://skittles.com into a giant feed of people's mentions of skittles from twitter.

thinking no-one would mind having their thoughts photocopied onto a diabetic-rainbow-vomit-inducing-bag-of-vomit-sweets website.

well they did.

and the tweets of "skittles gives you aids" starting appearing quicker than jonathan king at a gary glitter comeback musical which is set in a thai boy wallpapered swimming pool full of baby oil and follows a plot that loosely mirrors his sordid, twisted imagination.

agency.com on how not to use new media.

john w. said...

Apples and pears or is it simply a case of economics?

Anonymous said...

in digital the art directors get paid 10g's more! whats all that about?

Scamp said...

Pen top - there are some good 'breaking in' stories at the AdGrads site. And also mine.

6.30 - Yes, the Talent Business do also produce figures for Account Handlers and Planners. Maybe you can find the Account Handling ones at an Account Handling blog. Oh hang on, there's isn't one...

Bodecker said...

Getting paid a decent wage is easy in the UK compared with some countries. Just last week I had a call from a well-known advertising headhunter offering me a job as a Creative Director in Zimbabwe.

I told her what I was on in the UK and she said that her client could double it. As I enjoy a bit of a haggle I spent the next half an hour bumping the figure up another 50% and agreed to take the job.
However it turned out that she was playing for time all along. It turned out that the final amount that I accepted was actually worth less in 'real terms' than her initial offer just 30 minutes before.

Anonymous said...

The bank of Zimbabwe perhaps? Did she want your bank account number and sort code details?

Anonymous said...

Does anyone have any experience working as a Head of Copy at an ATL agency? I think it's a future possibility for me but somehow it seems as if it might be a dead end of a promotion -- neither allowing you to create good original work or to move up to being a CD...

Anonymous said...

1.51pm - There's a couple of digital teams at my agency, been there a couple of years, they've been pretty good in my book, won the agency awards, CD'd them on couple of jobs and they've produced some good work. No complaints.

Bias said...

bodecker, that sounds like the beginning of a really awful 'horror' flick, involving a gargantuan crocodile and the obligatory flesh-eating african tribe, of whom the world had not heard for many, many aeons.

Unless you have been eating pot noodles- with the red cup, which comes with that hellish chilly powder- for at least two months, I would strongly reconsider that job offer. If you think you are getting paid at all, just wait until you get off that plane.

(I got nothing against Zimbabwe, it is probably a beautiful country, but you can't be too careful this days).

Anonymous said...

7:23 PM
Art Directors in Digital get paid 10g's more because the title means a different thing in the digital arena. An AD in digital sets a design style and can use the Adobe Creative suite. Not just surf Youtube :)

Alan Wolk said...

Digital agencies don't make the same profits (yet) as traditional agencies. They often do project work (vs. AOR) and clients pay them a lot less per project.

Hence the lower salaries.

But something's got to give and soon. Because no one with any talent is going to put in the kind of hours needed to be an ECD unless there's a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. And the numbers you're posting say there's not.

And Anca's spot on too: for years we sold creative and gave away strategy. Now we've got to do it in reverse.

]-[appy Thought said...

As a digital creative I'd like to point out the difference between a creative team and a designer, as illustrated on those 2 charts you've got up there Mr. Scamp. I think the salaries they've got ther for a digital designer are about right, but creative teams can get paid whatever they are worth, just like ATL agencies.

Anonymous said...

6.30 here - chill out scamp - merely interested in comparing the industry as a whole

Rocker Man said...

11.14 is right. The Digital and ATL agencies tend to be remunerated in differing ways. Digital agencies on a project-based 'handling fee' and ATL on an annual fee. Easy to argue that Digital 'creative input' can be judged as a direct cost, invoiced and marked-up accordingly. Much harder to do that within the Agency fee structure. Maybe Digital creatives only get paid what the Digital agencies think their clients will bear?

11.14 is wrong - never a good idea to compare the billings figures in articles like Campaign's School Report. As far as I know they are provided by the agencies themselves and not audited. Should be taken with a large pinch of salt.

Pen top said...

Thank for the link to Ad grads Scamp! Never saw that on there, tucked away in the archives.

Anonymous said...

I heard Juan Cabral was getting paid £1million/yr when we worked at Fallon in London?

Not bad ay

The Douche de Richlieu said...

I heard that Cabral had it written into his contract that a trained proboscis monkey had to give him a shiner every morning and that he earned 10 million a week and as much gak as he could blow up his arsehole. Can anyone confirm?

Matt Law said...

I tapped up The Talent Business just now and have got hold of the account management pay scales, which are on the link below:

mammon.typepad.com

Doubtless you will be shocked how much money the bag carriers make...

Anonymous said...

I'm an ATL creative who got lazy and found himself with a mediocre book in a recession, so I went for a digital job for a year while I get my act together. don't laugh, I'm being honest here.

you're right, the salaries are lower, but that's not half of it. they never really go on long shoots like we do, they work in those dreadful shared offices (and literally all of them do, not just one or two oddball agencies that believe in "no walls" bs) and they work longer hours. people actually notice if you're through the door ten past nine in the morning. it's almost like working for an insurance company sometimes.

most digital is not really idea-based. it's strategy-based alright but the strategy is to write the proven selling point flat out and make it look nice. it's the new direct mail with the very occasional atl brief.

I'm really quite disappointed in digital agencies. working for them is not as much fun as working for an ATL shop is. for the right ATL shop at least.

but - and this is the only really important things - I've been here for six months now and I've produced three campaigns people are impressed by. you know what I mean - they ask on and on about it in meetings and don't seem to want to move on. digital is to creative directors like a shiny bracelet to a teenage girl, you do something that has a cool thought and looks neat and they give you much more credit for it than if it were a print idea. I've just submitted those campaigns to a few shows and am actually really hopeful. (I also know two judges at this year's really big show. ain't it always rigged?)

I'm excited again. I feel like I took a step back to work on my book and got rewarded with solid digital creative that I didn't expect. my print book is getting back into that shape where people pass it on. I have a plan to get into one specific agency within two years, a plan I've had and sabotaged before. this time I feel like it might work out and I like that feeling very much.

(I'm not taking a piss. I'm telling you how I really feel.)

AdLand Suit said...

You make a very good point, Scamp - one that I've argued with Rory Sutherland before. Why don't Suits blog? Well, we do now - have a look. See you there. Etc.

Anonymous said...

side issue I know, but Hovis have announced a 20 odd percent uplift in sales, from a campaign which was really just one big TV ad.

In this really the 'new media age'.

Anonymous said...

Digital agencies have not learned a very simple lesson. Think big. Just think. They are still tactical creatives not conceptual creatives. That is why 95% of the work digital agencies do is farmed to them, like a production company is farmed to. Until Digital companies understand and start hiring top level Traditional talent, they will never balance out the salary and concept parts of the business.

RobArtisan said...

Simon,

How can the advertising industry possibly pay such salaries with the recession?

I think this is wishful thinking

Rob