The other day, a commenter on this blog wondered: “As a late 30s creative, I'm getting increasingly paranoid about the dearth of 'older' creatives within many agencies. I'd like to know what happens to them. Are they killed off? What are the options open to any creatives unable or unwilling to become senior management?”
And as a supplementary, he asks “is it true that one loses one's creative mojo with age?”
Let’s take the first question first. The answer is there are very few options open to creatives unwilling or unable to become CD’s.
If you want to justify a big salary, you have to take some responsibility. That means creative directing.
If you can’t or won’t take responsibility, why should an agency pay you a big salary?
It doesn’t make sense for them to hang on to older, modestly-paid, ‘flatlining’ creatives when for the same money they can hire people on their way up.
That partially explains the dearth of older creatives. The other explanation is that some people get brought down by all the normal problems that can bring anyone down – drugs, alcohol, illness, wanting to move to Australia. And some people wake up one morning and suddenly realise “Oh my God, we’re just doing adverts… that’s all it is… adverts!” Each year you live increases the odds of one of these happening.
Now on to question two – whether one loses one’s creative mojo with age.
The answer is yes and no. First of all, it takes time to find your mojo in the first place. It probably takes ten years to become good (there’s a theory that it takes ten years to become good at anything).
Then you have your ‘golden window’ – the period after you’ve become good, but before you become complacent (or get brought down by one of the factors listed above). When you’re in it, you must milk that window.
Once you’re out-of-window, your ad writing skills will decline or disappear (many exceptions of course, we’re just talking the average career path here).
But by then, hopefully, you will be in management… and a whole different ball-game begins.
(I’ve moved some of the comments on the previous thread to here, to get us started)