I've had a few requests to do a post on the subject of placements, so here it is.
The industry is quite split on the issue.
On the one hand, there's the opinion (quite often held by the old-timers) that it should be a privilege for these kids to come in for two weeks, write some tactical radio ads or shelf-wobblers, and be generally ignored.
On the other hand, there's an equally ridiculous view that placement teams are an abused and down-trodden species, who deserve our support far more than pandas or polar bears do. In fact we should all be marching in the streets to save these emaciated creative geniuses.
And finally there's the (probably most widespread) shrug-of-the-shoulders type response, that while it's an unfair and demeaning system, there probably isn't a better one.
I'm in the last camp. Freakonomics pointed out that people are prepared to work for free (or for very little) in return for the chance to break into the 'glamour' industries of music, fashion, film etc.
We in advertising are only a second-tier glamour profession. Nevertheless, for as long as there are people prepared to be paid a pittance to get in, that is what the pay will be. Don't blame me. Blame whoever invented economics.
I actually don't think it's such a bad deal. Placement teams get free training (crits) whereas in a lot of industries you have to pay for training. You don't have to 'know the right people' like you do in some fields - our industry is pretty open and meritocratic. Placement teams aren't given a manservant to run a bath for them, but they're generally not treated badly by Agencies. They're certainly not ragged-on like a young 'un in a shipyard would be. And apparently even the wages aren't as bad as they used to be.
But what do I know. If you're on placement, tell me what it's like. Is it a fair deal, or a swizz?
And if you have an idea for a better system, tell us that too.