I don’t know about you, but I’ve had enough of the congratulatory drinks of ad-industry kool-aid that are shared between staff over the office fussball table.
Even the tragic death of a young woman in Japan, which was officially caused by ‘overwork’ wasn’t enough to shake the industry from its shackles of self-importance.
Advertising as an entity somehow deems its work so critical, so necessary, that its workers regularly work into their evenings and weekends, burning their candles at both ends with a blowtorch. We’re not saving kittens people. We’re making money for people who already have money. We’re tolerating a systematic culture that expects people to work past the clock night after night, just so rich companies can get richer. We’re not nurses unable to leave an operating table. We’re not teachers trying to plan a lesson to finally get their class to understand gravity. We’re making adverts. To sell more stuff. To make rich people richer.
Don’t get me wrong. I love advertising as a genre. I love the seemingly miniscule moments of genius that make people connect to a brand in unexpected ways. I’m fascinated by our relationships to companies, and how we choose to spend our money. But I hate the industry culture, and I hate that this level of over-working is tolerated and expected.
The notion of work-life balance sounds trite, but it matters. So so much. No amount of money is worth working a 14 hour day, after a 16 hour day, after a working weekend. We’re not saving kittens people. We’re making rich people richer.
We need to get a grip on ourselves. We need to just stop. If an agency requires its staff to routinely work late, it needs to hire more people, and make less profit. It needs to say no to deadlines that require the office to cancel all of their plans. There is just no need for deadlines that suffocate life in this way. Simple. Whether you’re at the bottom of the ladder at £18k, or way up on £120k, you deserve to go home at the end of a work day that wasn’t stupidly long. You deserve two days off. You deserve more than this. I’m not quite sure where advertising got its sense of critical urgency from, but it needs to stand back and take a good long look at itself in the mirror. This just isn’t cool guys. It’s time to put down the kool-aid, and start going home on time.
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