The Dark Side of Working as an Experienced Creative in an Advertising Agency
Posted on August 05, 2018 | By Richard Halabi

Many think that working as a creative director is an amazing career path to take, a dream job for most… But Richard Halabi, a multidisciplinary media creative with more than 15 years of advertising agency and production experience throughout the MENA region thinks otherwise.

Many think that working as a creative director is an amazing career path to take, a dream job for most… I mean, who wouldn't want to work in a “creative environment” where you can afford coming late, bouncing ideas, and seeing the “big idea” rolled out on the various media out there; yet one shouldn’t forget that everything comes with a price.

Here are 10 DARK points I had to deal with throughout my journey as an experienced creative working in advertising agencies across the Middle East, the GCC, KSA and North Africa for more than 15 years…

1- FROM HERO TO ZERO IN ONE DAY

One day you are the ‘Hero’ of the agency; the next day you are a zero, just because of internal agency politics. 

2- YOUR BALLS AGAINST MINE 

You have a big idea!!! Eureka!!! But know this… The acceptance of your ideas will greatly depend on the ego, mood and politics of the people you work with, not the science and the data behind it.

3- THE BLAMING GAME

Managing Directors or Account Directors will leave you to present alone your ideas to the client. Not because you are the creative therefore you are the best to pitch your idea, but in case the client doesn't get to see it nor happen to like it, they are safe and get no blame from the COO.

 4- CRAPPY CLIENTS WANTS FAST CRAP

As a creative you probably need an inspiring project you love to work on but at an agency, serving the client comes first, so if the client wants a project to be done no matter what or how, you need to get it done whatever it is. 

5- YOU ARE NOT A FREE MAN YOU ARE JUST A NUMBER

At an agency, you are just a number, thus everyone from the managing director to the executive takes the credit for the sleepless nights you sacrificed.

6- MEET THE GREEN EXPECTATIONS

Managing directors tend to overwork their creatives so that their numbers are always green. Account managers try to sell as many crappy campaigns as they can so their numbers are green. Marketing executives are very demanding so their numbers are green. Creatives have to work endless nights to try to meet the green expectations.

7- NO OVERTIME

Creatives are often underpaid compared to the long hours they work; no overtime, no end of year bonus however, if they come late, it will be deducted from their salaries.

8- PRESSURE

Creatives are expected to come up with great ideas on a regular basis. This puts a lot of pressure, not everyone can deal with. 

9- AGAIN NUMBERS HAVE TO BE GREEN

In some so-called advertising agencies, creatives have to worry about finding clients, keeping clients and their financial otherwise, the managing director will come nag that the agency numbers are in the red and consequently he will have to either fire you or lower your pay just to keep the numbers in the green.

10- THE WAITING GAME

Once you decide to leave the agency because you didn't want to cope with the above, you really have to wait a long time before getting hired again. Interns or fresh graduates are hired faster to fill the gap since they are cheaper and are not a threat to mediocre managing directors. 

So, next time you want to apply to an advertising agency as an experienced creative, choose with whom you want work with and ask yourself why did the creative before you leave…

Good luck.