Over the past few years, the advertising industry has experienced significant changes that have affected the functioning and culture of creative departments within agencies. While opportunities for excitement and fun persist in the day-to-day life of creatives, the landscape has evolved in numerous ways. In this in-depth blog post, we will explore the various factors that have contributed to the transformation of creative departments’ vibe and working drum and assess whether these changes are for better or worse.
Changes in Working Environment and Culture
1. Open Floor Plans
The shift toward open floor plans in agency offices has drastically altered the working environment for creatives. While these layouts foster collaboration and communication, they also create distractions that hinder productivity, particularly for those with ADHD. Many older creatives miss the days when they had offices, which provided a personal creative space and a sense of privacy.
2. Focus on Media and Strategy
Another significant change is the increasing emphasis on media and strategy, leaving creatives feeling less central to the agency ecosystem. This shift has also impacted the perks and opportunities available to creatives, with fewer invites to events and parties and less attention from vendors. The change has caused creatives to feel undervalued and sidelined in favour of other departments.
The Scale and Frequency of Parties and Perks
Agency parties were once extravagant, lavish affairs, complete with large budgets, top-notch entertainment, and a seemingly endless supply of alcohol and other vices. In recent years, however, the frequency and scale of these parties have diminished. While parties still occur, they are less frequent and smaller in scale, resulting in a less glamorous experience for creatives. Despite this shift, the camaraderie and positive vibes within agencies remain strong, emphasizing the importance of maintaining a close-knit community in the face of change.
Diversity, Inclusivity, and Political Leanings
One of the most positive changes in the advertising industry has been the increase in diversity and inclusivity. Agencies have become more LGBT-friendly and politically left-leaning, fostering a more welcoming environment for people of various backgrounds and beliefs. This progressive shift has contributed to a more collaborative and supportive atmosphere within creative departments, encouraging employees to bring their unique perspectives to the table.
The Evolution of Travel Opportunities and Global Collaboration
Travel opportunities for creatives have evolved in response to technological advancements and agency budget changes. While virtual platforms like Microsoft Teams have allowed for greater access to global briefs, the chance to travel and experience different cultures is less available than in the past. However, there are still opportunities for creatives to travel for shoots, award shows, and industry events, depending on the agency’s culture and client requirements. The reduction in travel opportunities has led some creatives to feel that the job is less glamorous and exciting than it once was.
The Impact on Creatives’ Responsibilities and Growth
The job can sometimes feel less glamorous than expected for junior creatives due to the increasing workload and pressure to deliver results quickly. The shift in responsibilities often occurs around the midweight to senior level, where creatives transition from ‘doers’ to ‘thinkers.’ The exciting aspect of the job is still present, but it requires finding an agency that aligns with one’s working style and values. Mentorship and professional development opportunities within creative departments have also evolved, focusing on nurturing talent and fostering growth.
The Shift in Priorities, Timelines, and Budgets
Creative departments now face tighter budgets, increased workloads, and shorter timelines for project completion. The turnaround time for projects is much faster, thanks to advances in software and automation. While this can be efficient, it also means that creatives have less time to fully explore and develop their ideas, potentially leaving some valuable concepts on the table. This shift in priorities and timelines has led to a more fast-paced, results-driven environment that can be both exhilarating and exhausting for creatives.
The Struggle to Balance Passion and Practicality
Many creatives in advertising agencies are incredibly talented individuals who could excel in other creative fields, such as art, design, or photography. However, they often find themselves in advertising because it provides a stable income and an opportunity to use their skills professionally. This can lead to a sense of unfulfilled potential or feeling stuck in an “arranged marriage” with their career. Some creatives learn to embrace their role in advertising and reserve their passions for their free time. In contrast, others continue to seek opportunities to merge their personal interests with their professional lives.
The Future of Creative Departments in Advertising Agencies
While the landscape of creative departments has evolved in recent years, the essence of being creative in the advertising industry remains unchanged. Creatives continue developing innovative ideas, shaping brands, and contributing to a vibrant agency culture. The challenges and changes created by creatives are part of the industry’s natural evolution, driven by technological advancements, shifting priorities, and societal transformations.
In conclusion, advertising agencies’ creative departments have changed over the years, with some aspects evolving for the better and others for the worse. The key to thriving in this ever-changing environment is to adapt, embrace the positive shifts, and find an agency that aligns with one’s values and working style. By doing so, creatives can continue contributing meaningfully to the industry and find fulfilment in their work.