Saturday, December 20, 2008

Job Insecurity

Last week, I asked you to vote for your ad of the year.

The winner was this:

So congratulations to DDB London, creative team Rob Messeter & Mike Crowe.

This week, we're looking forward to next year.

And let's face it, the picture is gloomy. So I'm asking the ultimate question - do you think you will still have a job on December 31st 2009?

Vote now, in the right hand column of this blog.

And in the commments, let's talk about the recession. Will only shit people get fired, or is everyone at risk? Are we looking at a major shake-up next year? Are we all doomed? Let me know what you think.

Previous Polls


Anonymous said...

It's definitely not only shit people getting fired. It seems to be roles becoming redundant rather than actual people. None of the people at my agency have been replaced - the agency have just decided they're not doing enough digital stuff to need this digital role, or won't be doing new pitches so won't be needing a new biz person. Or whatever.

Anonymous said...

Next year will be bad.

It will be worse than anyone expects it to be.

There will be a deep, and I mean deep and far reaching downturn in the Uk media Industry.

I think the Uk Ad agency’s owned by worldwide holding companies will be the worst affected. They have, what will in 2009 be unrealistic targets. Sadly, the regional managers (Agency CEO's) will try and do their best to meet those targets, to try and beat their contemporaries around the globe, and show that even they can maintain growth in a negative growth economy, which they will not do by the way. And that means dramatically reducing their workforce as soon as possible. Statutory redundancy is not as much as you might think (check the ACAS website) however long you have worked somewhere. So they can cut a big load off their overheads quickly, and cheaply. They can’t move to smaller premises quickly because most big agencies either have long leases, or sit within buildings owned by their holding companies. They can’t increase their fees right now, and probably have fuck all in tangible assets.

Then there are the independents, big and small, I might be quite naive here, but I think they might be better off. Clients get access to the top brass, they can shop around for partners, and they don't have huge coal fire's to fill everyday.

john p woods said...

Interesting piece in Newsweek last week from Germany's Finance Minister Peer Steinbrück who is articulating the same argument as the Republicans in House re auto bailout.... but with a more considered twist. Germany is taking the position that it won't be the patsy financing grandiose Obama-style deficit schemes put together by Sarkozy, Brown and their Brussels cronies. They all say everyone must jump together to make it work. Germany thinks they have gone mad, and that the collective folly has simply transferred itself from over-leveraging the capital ratios of the (private) banking system, to over-leveraging the capital ratios of the (public) global economy.

Quote from Steinbrück interview: "The same people who would never touch deficit spending are now tossing around billions. The switch from decades of supply-side politics all the way to a crass Keynesianism is breathtaking. When I ask about the origins of the crisis, economists I respect tell me it is the credit-financed growth of recent years and decades. Isn't this the same mistake everyone is suddenly making again, under all the public pressure?"

The full interview is at

At the moment Germany looks the odd man out. Yet Steinbrück is no fool and you have to ask whether he has pinpointed a collective (and largely unquestioned) madness among crowds and political leaders which goes something like this: "The Black Tulip Market must and will be allowed to continue. If the private sector can no longer afford to sustain this trade, then the public sector must create a Great Rescue Plan to guarantee our vital trade in Black Tulips, at whatever the cost." Steinbruck's answer is "the Great Rescue Plan doesn't exist!"

For all our sakes, I hope he is wrong, because the entire consensus of global policymaking seems to be heading in the other direction. But the fact is that Germany is the only country in Europe that has a balanced budget, that is a structural exporter with a robust industry and a relatively healthy financial sector, all of which sustains the value of the euro. Should we be treating this minister as a fool -- or as a wise man? If the latter, then by extension Brown, Sarkozy, and Summers/Geithner and the Obama economic policy crew, are all caught up in a collective folly of truly cosmic proportions. If it's the former, well, another "don't mention the war" Fawlty Towers-style joke about Steinbruck, will bring enough laughter to drown out the rumble of printing presses churning out more and more bonds for our children to pay back.

Anonymous said...

We will all keep our jobs. Merry Christmas!

Anonymous said...

'Only shit people get fired'.

Scamp you little tinker.

Anonymous said...

Thomas the Tank Engine - your use of the apostrophe is ghastly.

Can I trust your economic forecasts when you show such disregard for basic English grammar?

Based on this assesment, I predict a year that turns out to be nowhere near as bad as everyone imagines, with a long sunny summer and bumper apple harvest resulting in cheap scrumpy to see us through the winter months.

Also, you are a train.

john p woods said...

In the immortal words of Dad's Army's Frazer 'We're doomed!'

Anonymous said...

the agency i'm at has already made 10% of the workforce redundant, thats about 25 people. however all of them were in accounts, production, studio etc. creative on the other hand, were fine (apparently creative are quite outnumbered as a department as it is).

Actually, our CR got chucked, we've been without one for about 3 months now. He didn't fit the job anyway so no tragedy there in my opinion.

Me and my partner are just out of uni and on an extended placement there - i thought our time there was as good as over but they extended our contract even further (no doubt because we're cheap).

it begs the question you often hear among graduates, 'if you're good enough, will they hire you regardless of any recession?' I honestly don't know.

PH said...

Statutory redundancy is capped at £330 per week for each year you've been there. Unless you have a better deal in your contract or your agency is nice (rare) then you're shafted. I was lucky and managed to land another role fairly quickly when I was made redundant (I don't think I'm shit??). But there's not much out there :-( Lots of people in the ad industry will be made redundant next year, even those who think they're sitting pretty.

Anonymous said...

It would ironic if you got fired after that "shit people" comment Scamp. What an insensitive way to talk about people who are victims of the recession. Lowe recently laid off teams including the team who had won most of their awards in the past 2 years. Are they shit?

Anonymous said...

Come off it all you politically-correct hand-wringing commentators. Who do you think agencies get rid of first? Their stars? No. They get rid of the people they rate the least (exception - agencies in trouble, like Lowe, who may need to restructure, or lose high earners).

Anonymous said...

Dear touchy people,

I fail to notice scamp's using that "only shit people get fired" as an affirmation. It's a question, isn't it?

Don't get me wrong, I usually nail the bastard when he fucks up but this time he didn't.

Penny said...

I was having a drink with a bigwig from Zenith Optimedia the other night. He was talking about next year as if an asteroid were about to hit. He claimed that, instead of trying to battle through, lots of companies are resigned to having a shit year -he called it "year zero." These companies will be more or less going into bunker mode. Firing staff, cutting costs and holding on to their cash so that they can come out the other side somewhat intact. Now is not a good time to be an overpaid middleweight. You know who you are.

Anonymous said...

Having been a CD and ECD at two mid-size agencies through the last recession and now this one, I'll tell you how it works.

Everyone is vulnerable. Making 'roles' redundant is merely a quick way of bypassing the laborious EU redundancy laws. Expensive senior creatives and CDs will be next, even if they've scooped a hat-full of awards (the creatives will go, the awards stay in reception). If I can hire a decent mid-weight team for £45K each to replace a team on £90K each, I'm halving my cost whilst maintaining my department's output (which the board will love). It's down to me to make sure the work's up to scratch but that's the ECD's job.

Worried about your job? Here's my advice. Get in earlier. Leave later. Never be seen to be cruising through your day. Even if you are busy, keep volunteering your time to work on any brief you can get your hands on. Learn to be 'good with clients' – if you have a relationship with them, you're less disposable. Get good at digital - not just banner ads, but start to understand the potential of the techy/data stuff (read NMA). Volunteer to work on the days between Christmas and New Year. And finally, if it comes to the crunch and you are under consideration for redundancy, volunteer a pay-cut or to go to 4 days-a-week (but with a the proviso that the agency will be OK with you doing any work you can find, at home). When things pick up, it's easy to put you back on 5 days.

All of these suggestions will achieve nothing if:
a) your ECD is a bit of a shit and/or has a clique of 'favourites';
b) It's all too late and your agency is actually going the tubes; or
c) You're not really very good at your job. Harsh, but true.

Anonymous said...

See what you hink of this:

Scamp said...

That 'shit' remark probably was insensitive. Sorry. I've got agent provocateur in my genes I think. No excuse, but there you go.

john p woods said...

Want someone to blame?
Blame this guy:

Anonymous said...

Could the 47 people who voted for the ipint please get to the back of the class.

Anonymous said...

'Only shit people get fired'.

a very good ECD of mine once told me that everyone who didn't at least once get fired in their careers just wasn't trying hard enough. it's only the meek who survive at an agency for life and they never do anything noteworthy.

he told me this after the CCO had just fired me, btw.
that was six months ago. trying to get hired right now is absolutely devastating. nobody is looking. compared to how easy I always found finding a job this is truly depressing.

Anonymous said...

Back in the good old days of October, Scamp, you wrote, "I don't believe downturns actually affect individuals that much."

Sticking with that point of view?

Scamp said...

It's a tough one. Probably 5% or 10% of us will lose our jobs. But... the other 90-95% won't.

These guys will continue to go into the office every day, write adverts, play pool, and bitch about account handlers. And clients.

Anonymous said...

How about getting NABS to post some helpful advice on what to do if you're made redundant Scamp?

Here's what we think are the key things to remember, but please check with NABS to make sure this is correct-

1. Drag out the consultation period for as long as possible.

This effectively means you'll get paid for longer. You notice period starts from the date you sign an agreement. So don't agree to ANYTHING in the first meeting.

If more than 20 people are being made redundant (including the past 3 months), your 'consultation period' should be at least 30 days.

2. The 'Consultation period' should feel 'useful'. ie It is your employers duty to try and help you and hold disscussions. If it doesn't seem like this and feels like a done deal, it's actually considered as a "dismissal" in which case you may have legal grounds to sue for unfair dismissal.

3. Your notice period should be tax free unless stated in your contracted. (There's an abbreviated code that means they can tax you, but it has to be on your contract)

john p woods said...

There maybe trouble ahead…
Nowt better than this. Merry Xmas.

Anonymous said...

It is going to be a bad bad bad year. But not half as bad as the year after...

Reduced spending next year will be followed by zero spending in 2010.

Multinationals, regionals, globals - unfortunately no agency is immune.

The money has run out.

Anonymous said...

The money was never there.

Anonymous said...

r.e.Scamp 8.54: I'd quibble with you on the severity of this slump. You think 5-10% redundancies, I'd say 10-20% across the board in agencies. This is shaping up to be worse than 1990-92 when, if memory serves me, BBH laid nobody off, but most agencies did, as quietly and unobtrusively as possible. And as for Lowes-last one out, switch off the lights.

Anonymous said...

In response to Thomas the Tank Engine (never thought I'd write that). Surely any company owned by a worldwide holding company will be LESS affected. With the pound being so week now in comparisson with the Dollar and Euro, to a global company the cost of running a London agency has halved. Having said that the potential profit isalso halved but if your working on global buisness that makes your cheap to run.

Anonymous said...

Bollox. I'm shit at my job.

Charles Edward Frith said...

You'd be nuts to leave your cash in Sterling. It's swirling around the toilet bowel along with the dollar and is about to disappear.

Asian currencies. Yen, RMB.

Best I can do for you before the carnage hits.

No more Starbucks. It's Coffee Powder time.

Anonymous said...

I'm in Asia (Japan, to be exact). All the long-term freelancing teams at WPP and Omnicom agencies have had their contracts cut short this month. The rest of the cuts are coming in the new year.

Everyone here is hoping that we'll be slightly better off due to Asia being the shining light of hope for most of the international companies.

I'm actually hoping they'll use the recession as an excuse to get the axe out. Japanese agencies are AMAZINGLY overstaffed, with creatives who sleep at their desks for hours at a time and teams that work exclusively on scam work populating the office. It would be nice to see a bit of late-coming justice handed out. Ironically enough, the long term freelancers (mostly westerners) were usually some of the most capable, responsive creatives working here, they were just easier to fire.

So no, Simon, not only shit people get fired. They're usually the ones in charge, so they get to keep their jobs a bit longer than most.

Anonymous said...

I have a mate who works on the Media desk of a major investment bank. In his own words: "2009 is going to be an absolute fucking blood bath. You'll be lucky if there's an ad industry left by 2010."

Hold onto your hats, folks. It's gonna be a rough year.