Some people say advertising is not an industry for “old” people…

I have now figured out why the Academy Award ceremony starts well before the sun goes down in Los Angeles. It is simply to accommodate the older talent who again walked away with the majority of Oscars this year.

It was terrific to see Christopher Plummer (82) struggle on to the stage for his recognition as Best Actor in a Supporting Role. At 77, Woody Allen was already in bed and couldn’t accept his statue for Best Original Screenplay. Martin Scorsese made a brilliant 3D film (with 5 awards) at the age of 70 and then there was Meryl Streep who won again in the year of her 62nd birthday.

The real point I would like to make is that these achievements by elders are so contrary to the attitude that one encounters in other creative industries, probably none more so than in advertising.**

Yes there will always be exceptions, but the prevailing attitude appears to be that once you have reached 50 (or there about) you should no longer aspire to a new career challenge in advertising. “Not an industry or job for old people” you often hear people say.

This leads me to a few observations:

  • The movie business demands big, fresh ideas that appeal to people worldwide.
  • A critical component in film making is the art of storytelling, why should it be different in advertising?
  • Older people are brilliant story tellers as they draw on life’s experiences.
  • In web based media it is very powerful when a brand has a credible story to tell, whether through heritage or any other unique attribute.
  • At CEO and board level, our client companies are most often controlled by leaders who offer extensive experience and wisdom in business.
  • Is a perceived lack of experience one of the advertising industry’s challenges in regaining the recognition it deserves in client board rooms?
  • Ogilvy and Bernbach built brilliant agencies at an age that today may be seen as too old for the advertising business.

It would appear that a group of respected Australian creative talent shares my concern about the advertising industry’s conservative view on industry experience. See the announcement of a new agency “Grown-ups” last week.

One cannot help but get excited about the prospect of combining the lack of fear from younger talent with the wisdom of the “oldies”.

Although investing in a silent movie about the end of silent movies was a pretty brave idea from an old bloke like Harvey Weinstein.

** Declaring self interest at the age of 61.


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