Friday, July 10, 2015

A phone call from an old friend.

A friend called me yesterday afternoon, an old friend, an advertising friend. We were partners in the early 90s at an advertising agency called Ally & Gargano. She's somewhat left the business, but her husband's remained in. That is until Tuesday or so when he was axed from his high-level job.

It sucks to be old in this business.

To have grey hair.

To make a decent wage.

Each one of those qualities is another circle on your back. A circle that eventually makes up a target. If you're feeling particularly somber, you might want to view these scenes from one of the greatest movies ever made, Preston Sturges' "The Sin of Harold Diddlebock." view.

There are some places that are kinder and gentler. Some places that are colder and meaner. But the fact of the matter is, five--and probably soon to be four--holding companies control 75% of the ad jobs in the city. There is no doubt collusion driving wages down and older people out. That's what happens in virtually every industry. Why would ours be more virtuous.

My friend and I talked a long time.

That evening I followed up by citing a post I had published long ago. I hope it helps her husband. It's what I've always tried to do and it's helped me.

How to get fired.

Getting fired is an advertising inevitability.
It happens to the best of us.
It happens to the worst of us.
It happens to big salaries.
And small.
And in-between.
It happens to those who deserve it and those who don’t.
Regardless of all that,
there’s a right way and a wrong way to get canned.
Here’s the right way:

  1. Always have your “book” ready. That is, always have it up-to-date. The last thing you want to do when you’re axed is find files, pull favors and get things together. Preparing for you next job is an important part of your current job.
  2. Keep active on social media. Don’t connect to random people but keep tabs on where people are and what they’re doing. Stay friendly. Stay interested. Stay informed. Keep your name positive, out there and active.
  3. Cultivate your memory. Remember people you’ve worked with. Clients. Editors. Colorists. Partners. These are people who you may need to lean on.
  4. Be a good person. I happen to believe that in all of advertising there are maybe ten people good enough to be assholes. If you’re not one of them, be nice. Help people. Work hard. Pitch in. Return emails and phone calls. You’re more likely to be lent a hand if you’re not a prick. So don’t be a prick.
  5. Stay current. It makes sense to me to be a student of the industry. Know who’s winning accounts, who’s doing good work, who’s pitching. These are likely to be the people and places looking for help.
  6. Do good work. This needs no explanation. The best way to recover from being fired (which most-often has nothing to do with the work you produce) is to have good work in your book.
  7. Publish a blog. It’s the best way to keep your name in front of people. Use your blog to show the business (and whoever else reads it) who you are.
  8. Don't spend money on foolish things. Really. Grow up. You're going to need that money when you're schmised. And you can live without $150 canvas sneakers.
  9. Thank the people who fired you. Be gracious. Thank your boss, your partner, your planner, the account guy for the opportunities you've been given. Don't be bitter. That said, be firm when it comes to severance.
  10. Have some champagne. At all times keep a bottle, chilled, in your fridge. Celebrate when it happens. Better days will come.

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