The Anchor: 9 reasons creativity in advertising is underpaid

06 Jan,2012

By Sandeep Bomble


Famous Myths

#1 India still believes in paying for tangibility. Working hard is often recognized. Man hours matter and define work. Thinking is still an intangible quality which is perceived to be present in everyone.


#2 Creative beings are often mistaken and perceived as souls only hungry for quality work. They can go to any extent to attain their desired passion. Money is secondary for them as long as their passion is groomed on the right track.


#3 In India, qualifications and degrees are everything for a well-settled life. A degree holder can demand a big pay cheque. And why not! After all he has spent a bomb on his professional course. How could he consider a 10th pass Art professional as his peer? How can creativity come with a ‘qualified’ tag? “He can’t possibly be creative with no degree backup,” is something often heard, whereas this creative fellow could be a visionary with immense guts to break every clutter.


#4 It is about the client’s attitude towards creativity. The “anyone can do what you do” attitude. Today, a creative agency goes all out to crack a brilliant communication strategy. Intensive research. Deep thinking. Uncompromised approach on the final execution. Great efforts together bring out that distinctive piece of work. Which can be simple in nature. And the simplicity which isn’t so easy to achieve after reading the most complicated brief often draws the comment: “Oh, even my secretary can write better than this.” Or “My 6-year-old son can draw a better logo for me”. Well, so how would creativity get its due respect and worth?


Brutal Facts

#1 The clients have become better negotiators than the agencies. With the advertising market expanding, the retainer figures are going down considerably. even the biggest of the agencies are going low on retainership. Consequently, suppressing the quality small agencies to further compromise on creative fees. As a result, the agencies aren’t comfortable in approving heavy salary cheques down the line. It’s sad but true. This is definitely affecting the quality of work. As the industry isn’t working on what they deserve, but is rather content with what is available.


#2 The growth in advertising revenue, though being healthier every passing year, can in no way be compared to a lot of its major peer sectors. The turnover of the advertising industry is significantly less in contrast to telecom, IT or financial sectors. Thus the advertising agencies cannot afford to pay their creative employees more than their annual budget.


#3 Many of the budding creative people lack confidence to ask for the best price for their creative abilities, during their onset. It is only after some years that they realize their creative potential and develop enough self-esteem to rely on the instincts, abilities, conviction and gain the right exposure to demand a more lucrative pay slip.


#4 The young guns who are fresh entrants seek a break to release their potential to the best of their abilities. They vie to work with the best of the creatives, so, if they go to the well-known industry they come mentally prepared to work for peanuts in bargain for their own development. They fear losing an opportunity in a reputed, sought-after ad agency, and thus sadly settle for whatever the agency wishes to pay them.


#5 If the creative guys ask for double the salary as compared to their peers or what the agency thinks is best for them, then they have a greater possibility of not being selected because equal numbers of creatives are ready to work for the same or even lesser amount than the industry standards. Thus the agencies rather go the cliched way of having two brains for the price of one expensive quality brain.


If only we could break these hardbound myths and dispose of them, by practising a common slab of retainership. For instance, charge Rs 5 lakh as retainer fees even to the smallest client. In return, the client enjoys the gradual brand growth, justifying the creative fees in the long run. This way we could standardize the industry format, solving some of the brutal realities, so that creativity breathes fresh and takes pride in matching shoulders with other mighty sectors, head-on.


Sandeep Bomble is the founder of Palasa.


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