I had dinner with a friend the other night, who happens to be a headhunter. Her general comment on our industry was this very straightforward bombshell: "It's shrinking."
Of course there's still the same amount of stuff being made. It's just that less of it is being made by ad agencies.
It's starting to be made by clients in-house (e.g. Apple), by media agencies, by media owners (including the 'new media' owners like Google and Facebook), and by a barbarian horde of all-around content providers, such as Vice, Maker Studios, etc.
Have you seen 'Dear Kitten'? (above). If not, watch it immediately.
This was made by BuzzFeed.
Not an ad agency.
(Incidentally, I love the way there's a header at the beginning which announces 'BuzzFeed Presents'. Wouldn't it be cool if we could open our ads with 'DDB Presents...')
An article in last week's Wall Street Journal picked up on this trend.
Titled 'Tech Firms Pull Talent Away From Ad Agencies', it cites someone called Amy Hoover, the president of recruiters Talent Zoo, saying that "almost 50% of creative jobs available today — including copywriters, designers, creative directors and content creators — aren’t at agencies, compared with 30% in 2010."
And more than 50% of Facebook’s North American in-house creative unit, Creative Shop, come from an agency background.
Despite perceptions that the pay is higher at tech firms, money isn’t necessarily the draw at these new creative destinations. There is “pop-culture cachet that some of these new players can offer, which is attractive to people in their 20s and 30s,” according to Bob Jeffrey, non-executive chairman of J. Walter Thompson.
It’s a challenge for agencies, but if you're a creative person it’s surely good news, as it means you have more options.
So in summary, I'm actually feeling a little less doom-and-gloom than usual.
Because despite the seismic changes that are tearing through our industry like an electric carving knife through a pair of testicles... we will all still have jobs, people!
They just might not be in an ad agency.