Lately, I’m hearing about many jobs and opportunities at various ad agencies. Surprisingly, there are jobs in the advertising business, despite the gloom and doom of the industry in particular and the economy in general. For those of us around Boston we have to be willing to relocate. For all of us, in the advertising biz, we apparently need to possess multiple skill-sets.
Whenever confronted with this attitude, or with job descriptions like the above I wonder in which year folks are living because it sounds like 1999. My next thought usually has to do with the evolution of societies. Back in the early days of web marketing many folks did many things like design and code and even write. An interesting thing happened, as it often does in evolving societies: things started to get complicated and division of labor within the (web marketing) tribes began to emerge. Granted, there are folks who have truly full tool sets, and the more that you can do, the better. Yet, I think it unrealistic to expect everybody to wear many disparate hats as par for the daily course. Sure it’s great from a bottom-line, head count perspective when you can hire one rather than two folks. In over a decade in this business I’ve met very few people who were conceptual thinkers, great designers, rocking Flash developers and good managers (in fact, I know one).
I do believe that everybody in an interactive agency who touches work that goes into the world needs to understand the medium, the platforms and the capabilities and limitations of same. Expecting a copy writer to write both the copy and the markup that holds the copy is asking quite a bit of that person and, frankly, not providing the level of service and work that we should provide to our clients. Many of us in advertising can do many things. We are gamers and are willing to tackle challenges. Perhaps the new business model –whatever it will be — will require us all to wear more hats (though, the old one did too) but I want to wave a caution flag. Unless that copy writer is very good at both markup and pithy marketing copy — and I mean very good at both — then she should not be writing both. There is a professional level of work that we marketers need to deliver to the people paying the bills. I’m not entirely convinced that hiring Jacks & Jills of all trades is the way to deliver that superior product. If an agency finds that multi-tool person, by all means, scoop them up, and pay them well. Otherwise, hire appropriately, let people do what they do well and deliver great work from within well built teams.