Ahh advertising, the industry that’s always looking toward the future. We’re fascinated by the new AI: machine learning, the internet of things, Web 3.0, the list goes on…
But are you looking at your future?
Start by looking around you, do you work alongside people who are in their 40s, 50s and 60s? They were pioneers in a brave new world, they worked on the birth of the internet and social media. They made sense of these emerging technologies and found ways of making new tech alluring and profitable for clients.
Exactly what you are doing now.
Mark Twain said: “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes.” So how will you feel when you’re history and being an AI native trumps being a digital one? If we don’t stop the ridiculous notion that being born into a new world makes you the master of it, we’ll keep throwing away all our precious wisdom and experience.
I know some older members of our community haven’t done us many favours on this subject, mainly because the narrative has been led by grumpy white guys, who used to be the masters of the universe, moaning that advertising isn’t what it used to be in the 1980s. I agree with them on the work – it was soooo much better when an art director and copywriter were given time, freedom and ownership of their ideas. But I am regularly triggered by legacy agency social media groups filled with pictures of parties where most of the women I worked with were hiding away from serial sexual predators cheered on by the lads who gave them nicknames to celebrate their abuse (oh, yes Mr Sausage, we don’t forget!).
What’s worse, their usual response to the ageism these men face is to attack younger people without a whiff of irony that this-ism cuts both ways.
Some of us are looking out for your future. We know most of you will live till you’re 100 or 120 but you work in an industry where only the brightest stars earn longevity. Advertising is a much kinder, safer and welcoming place than it has ever been and it’s time to bust open the doors to allow the future yous to survive by bringing us back from the past.
Over the past couple of years, our Visible Start programme has trained midlife women to enter or re-enter the industry. It has been a massive success; the women are inspired, invigorated and doing great work, they are genuinely loved by the younger generations they work with because they know their stuff. The essence of the ad business is almost exactly how it’s always been, all that really ever changes is the tech and anyone can learn that.
Jane Evans is a creative director and co-author of Invisible to Invaluable: Unleashing the Power of Midlife Women