Agency/Millennial Tension

Digiday has an interesting series of articles asking millennials about their trials and tribulations at agencies, and vice versa with agency executives.

The millennial view of agencies

Let’s start with the cliche. Ahem:

Speaking as a millennial, with only six months’ experience working in social media and digital marketing, the biggest challenge I have found is trying to convince account people and clients that I am right.

On ethics and morals:

 Most people view advertising as a dishonest effort. Some of my young agency friends and I have personal moral objections to a good amount of advertising. (I refuse to work for the likes of big banks, oil companies and human rights violators.)

On reinventing the wheel:

The greatest challenge facing my generation’s work in ad agencies is reversing the inertia toward (failing) traditional thinking. Antiquated thoughts about success metrics, channel-specific campaign construction, and rigid workflow and organizational structures are largely producing diminishing results

On hubris:

Should I help brands make more money, or should I try to make my own mark in the world?

WTF Millennials: Managing Agencies’ Newest Generation

Agency execs then weighted in on issues like job security:

As long as I kept getting paid, I assumed things were going in the right direction. [But Millennials] constantly want feedback and expect you to be constructive.

On pay-parity:

Only at the agency a few months upon graduation, a young lady walked into my office and told me her dad thought that she was underpaid. I replied that her dad should call me so that we could discuss the matter. He never called.

On the fact that good ideas can and do come from anywhere:

Personally, I encourage our junior employees to speak up at meetings and voice their opinions.

And on talent:

I have a quick story about a millennial I hired. He was a young strategist. Had all the answers and could actually see the future. He was everywhere. He knew everyone. He knew who was doing what. I brought him in to help with things. It was like asking an actor that plays a doctor to do real surgery on a real patient. He didn’t know how to do anything. He could talk about stuff and criticize what agencies were doing but really added no value. At one point, I walked by his desk and saw Facebook on one monitor and Tweetdeck on another. I told him that he’s so good at social media that he’s totally unproductive. We let him go a few days later. In his mind, he nailed the task and moved on to help get the ad industry back on track. Sigh. The overconfidence, zero accountability and zero remorse is 100 percent millennial. They don’t get the concept of learning.

There is also a good wrap-up and resulting “Millennial User Manual

My 10 cents are simple – if the cliches are true (of both sides) then we’re in trouble. Antiquated old agency execs in their ivory towers and work-shy entitled millennials will not make a good future for the agency business. If both sides are willing to listen and learn from each other, then we’re set for a barnstorming few years as dogs old and new get taught new tricks.

2 Responses to Agency/Millennial Tension

  1. Joseph says:

    This is a the stupidest post I have ever seen. Were you drunk when writing it? This is the reason clients hate agencies. Get to work. Stop the BS.

  2. ianhartsough says:

    Agreed on your close. I would also offer that if there are millennials and established agency types that are such caricatures of employees, then hopefully the managers of the world will have their eyes and ears open enough to keep them from being hired or retained in the first place.

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