Working at Advertising Agencies

16 Pros and Cons of Working at an Advertising Agency

People all over the world are idolizing creative agencies. Who wouldn’t want to work at a place that is known for spectacular ideas, free food and beverages and huge after work parties? Before you go ahead and sign that contract, remember everything comes with a price. 

In this article we at Filestage are going to discuss the pros and cons of working as a creative at an advertising agency.

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The Risks of Working at an Advertising Agency

Living the life of a creative artist sounds amazing doesn’t it? Creative agencies can be some of the best employers. However, everything comes with a price. Working at an advertising agency also presents risks that you should take into consideration before making your decision.

1. Lost in Translation

Agencies are flexible corporations that move at a very fast pace. Creative Agencies balance a plethora of projects simultaneously. Due to the mass number of projects, account managers need to communicate the needs of the client to the creative. This makes the job challenging for the creative and the account manager.

Secret Weapon:

There are a bunch of great tools out there that help you to handle several creative projects simultaneously. One of the most used tools to collaborate and organize projects is Trello. Everything is organized on customizable boards. One of my personal favorites is the management tool Asana. Use Asana to define and schedule tasks, assign tasks to co-workers and check them when done. Besides, to improve your creative workflow, our web application Filestage streamlines your client reviews on videos, pictures and documents.

2. Take on the Less Glamorous Projects

Agencies exist solely to serve their clients. As an employee, the client needs to be your number one concern as well. You can expect a fast-paced lifestyle filled with deadlines, demanding clients, and confusing projects. As a creative you probably have a perfect project that you love to work on. BUT, at an agency the clients come first. If the client wants a project done that you don’t particularly care about, you still need to get it done.

Ad Agencies exist solely to serve their clients. Even if they can be a pain.
Ad Agencies exist solely to serve their clients. Even if they can be a pain.

3. No Credit Where Credit is Due

At an agency you might get the feeling like you’re just a number. It can be hard to receive recognition when the Account Manager, or the Executive Team, is taking credit for the sleepless nights that you sacrificed.

4. High Workload

A lot of agencies tend to overwork their creatives. There is never enough time. Account managers try to sell as many campaigns as they can. Clients are demanding. Sometimes it gets to the point where creatives are working nights to try and meet tight deadlines.

There is never enough time in the advertising world. Click To Tweet

5. Lower Income

The media and communication industry is infamous for its low salaries. Many hardworking advertising professionals often feel underpaid compared to the long hours they work. People who are in it for the paycheck are better off working a career in a corporate enterprise.

6. Start Late, Stay Later

A typical day usually starts a bit later then it would in more conservative industries. To sleep in and to start late is possible in most agencies. Starting late doesn’t mean you work less. A typical art director in advertising agency works long hours. Especially when deadlines are close – and deadlines are always close – creatives are expected to work overtime.

When a deadline is approaching nights can be short.
When a deadline is approaching nights can be short.

7. Being Creative Under Pressure

As a creative in an advertising agency, you are expected to come up with great ideas on a regular base. Every creative is familiar with the nagging worries about a potential creative block. This puts a lot of pressure on a creative. Not everybody can handle this.

The Advantages of Working at an Advertising Agency

Feeling discouraged? Now that we’ve covered the downsides, we can start talking about the various advantageous of working at a creative agency.

HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT: 29 Surprising Facts About The Agency Business

1. Social Environment

Creative agencies are known for providing social environments for their creatives to thrive in. Creative agencies help you build strong friendships with colleagues through different activities. Some agencies are known for their parties to get their employees together. Others are known for their competitive kickball teams.

The work of an advertising agency is warmly and immediately human. (Leo Burnett) Click To Tweet

Creative agencies allow you the luxury to bounce ideas off colleagues. If you ever get a client you can’t handle, or you hit a creative block, your colleagues have your back.

Bouncing ideas off colleagues will boost your creativity.
Bouncing ideas off colleagues will boost your creativity.

2. Work Hard, Play Hard

The typical agency follows something like a “work hard, play hard” mentality. During the long days spent at the office, there is always room to have some fun. Whether it’s playing games on the Wii, drinking beer from the tap, or getting a little too creative at after work parties, creatives know how to have fun.

3. Great Learning Opportunity

If you are eager to learn, an advertising agency is the perfect place for you. Creative agencies have earned their reputations through genius ideas, consistency, and high ROI’s for their clients. Learning the tricks of selling ideas, managing clients and developing strong concepts from established agency creatives, can help to take your work to the next level.

4. Every Jack has his Jill

Your typical day will vary from agency to agency. Some agencies are known to have more of a conservative hardworking ideology. Others tend to have a more relaxed way of operating. Each agency has a different personality, a different culture. Changes are high you’ll find the perfect match.

5. Focus On What You Love

Creative freelancers have to worry about marketing themselves, handling their financials, and finding new clients. At an agency, all of that is taken care of for you. You can focus a majority of the time working on your creative projects.

Don't worry about financials and client acquisition.
Don't worry about financials and client acquisition.

6. Regular Income

Creative agencies offer relatively safe jobs. Compared to being a freelancer you have benefits like a steady income, paid holidays and an adequate retirement plan. Agencies pay creatives on average $40,000 to $60,000, which is more than most freelancers earn. Creatives with a couple of years of experience can expect to earn up to $100,000. (Source: PayScale)

7. Opportunities for Advancement

Advertising is a meritocratic industry. Quick promotions are guaranteed to those who shine. As a smart creative in an advertising agency, your opportunities are endless. Whether your goal is to become a senior creative director or become an agency executive, you have potential for great advancement.

8. Dress Code in Ad Agencies

Depending on your job, agencies are known to be lenient when it comes to dress code. Most creatives are allowed the liberty to wear what they want. Normally anyone who meets with the client is professionally dressed, but some “creative flair” is always allowed.

Most agencies are easy-going when it comes to dress code.
Most agencies are easy-going when it comes to dress code.

9. Opportunities to Network

Creative agencies are a part of a bigger community of advertising and communication professionals. You are given the luxury of networking with other agencies, clients, suppliers, media owners and consultants as part of your business. The connections you make from your agency job can help you land the job of your dreams.

Conclusion

Working in an advertising agency comes with lot of advantages and disadvantages. Creative agencies are not for everybody. But if you are eager enough to handle all the cons of being a creative in an advertising agency, it might be the perfect place for you.

Key Disadvantages:

  1. Lost in Translation
    • Communications can be tough
  2. Work the Unpopular Jobs
    • No possibility to discard a project
  3. No Credit Where Credit is Due
    • Sometimes you don’t even get a compliment for your work
  4. High Workload
    • There is never enough time
  5. Lower Income
    • Lower salaries than in the corporate world
  6.  Start Late, Stay Later
    • Night shifts and overtime
  7. Being Creative Under Pressure
    • Permanent pressure to be creative

Key Advantages:

  1. Social Environment
    • Build strong friendships with colleagues
  2. Work Hard, Play Hard
    • There is always room to have some fun
  3. Great Learning Opportunity
    • Agencies are a great place to learn all the tricks
  4. Every Jack has his Jill
    • It is easy to find an agency that fits your personality
  5. Focus On What You Love
    • You can focus a majority of the time working on your creative projects
  6.  Regular Income
    • Creative agencies offer relatively safe jobs and a steady income
  7. Opportunities for Promotions
    • You have potential for great advancement.
  8. Dresscode
    • Most creatives are allowed the liberty to wear what they want
  9. Opportunities to Network
    • Networking is part of your business

What are your experiences? What other pros and cons do you see? We at Filestage are looking forward to your comments.

Make sure to also check out The Ultimate Ad Agency Personality Test: Picasso or Peter Pan, What Type Are You?

Passionate about communications and client relations. He loves to dig into behavioral economics to uncover the irrationality in our daily behavior.

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