First Comes Advertising, Then Comes....What?
April 20, 2015 10:49 AM   Subscribe

I've been an advertising creative for almost ten years and have observed that there are very few people beyond their 40s still doing what I do. And, well, I'm in my late 30s. I've started wondering, where do all the ad creatives go?

I love being a copywriter. I love coming up with ideas. I love standing in the kitchen and hearing a commercial I've made come on the TV. I love doing unexpected things in social media. And yes, I love the income.

It's hard to imagine doing anything else.

But I'm a realist. And if I'm going to leave advertising, I want to do it on my terms.

If you've been there, done that, I want to hear all about it.
posted by missjenny to Work & Money (9 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
We have former creatives where I work -- a major university. I doubt it's as exciting, but it is steady and can be fun.
posted by Lescha at 11:52 AM on April 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Similarly, nonprofits are increasingly looking for those with more commercial experience - this position, for example, sounds like it could be a good fit. And honestly, having worked for some major national nonprofits, I have felt the same buzz from hearing my organization mentioned in the media. So I'd look into that as well.
posted by kat518 at 1:13 PM on April 20, 2015

I know a lot of people in marketing comment that there are no women over 50 doing marketing. Someone else told me there are no men in creative roles after that age either. I haven't quite figured out where they all go, but I haven noticed that there is a big demographic change.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 1:17 PM on April 20, 2015

I've seen many go into Content Strategy or go client side.
posted by functionequalsform at 1:56 PM on April 20, 2015

When I think about the ad people I knew in the 1990s, they are now:

—opened their own shops
—in publishing
—married, with kids, running a household
—in a variety of facets of marketing in any kind of industry you can think of, but especially in the digital realm
—still working in the ad business, only now in positions of authority.
posted by Mo Nickels at 1:56 PM on April 20, 2015

We had a former advertising creative teach advertising at a small college (this is in the UK, so not university-college, but small-school-college).
posted by ClarissaWAM at 1:58 PM on April 20, 2015

Echoing the nonprofit thing. I work for an international organization which has quite a few former marketing/advertising/creative agency people and it can work well. The money's typically not as good but you won't starve at that level either. Nonprofits often like to have creative people who can work well with agencies.
posted by lunasol at 2:58 PM on April 20, 2015

Best answer: I have a design degree and started out as an art director for a few years but I've actually swapped over and have been a copywriter at the major agencies now for about 15 years. I'm forty and I took a break to have kids and have a three and a half year old and almost two year old and guess what?! There's no way I can do the hours I used to do, go away for shoots or work all weekend and be anything but a distant stranger to my children. So this is a reason, at least, that you don't see a lot of parents in the industry, it ain't family friendly for the most part. It's such a shame.

I've recently started working from home writing for a web/app development firm two days a week. It's just content but I don't have to go into an office or deal with meetings, I earn top freelance rates and it's not taxing brain work. Plus I can fit it around the kids which in this industry is almost impossible.

For my current situation, it's perfect but I don't get the satisfaction or rush of cracking a concept, working in a team, doing umpteen different creative disciplines where I get to marry fashion and photography and design and God knows what else. I very much doubt I will ever feel as creatively satisfied again in any other career path just because what we do is so varied and we have the money to think up something and make it happen, you know?

I've started painting again in an effort to regain a little of that and I'm better than I remember but I'm a while off before I can support anyone on that! Luckily for me, financially I'm not being forced to grab any job and have some breathing space, just as well as I'm not sure I could handle a standard office job. I feel like a real primadonna princess just writing that, but it's true.

So I guess I'll keep an eye on others' input. I have friends who have monetised blogs and developed apps but it's a lot of work and no guarantee. That's life, I suppose. Best of luck and let me know how you go.
posted by Jubey at 9:00 PM on April 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

My parents, both creatives, worked at major ad agencies from the 70s-90s. Now they're both in their sixties and still working. One's a freelancer, working with clients he's had for 20+ years and a guy he contracts with who just chases new business, and the other is in a consulting capacity. Neither would fare well at agencies, or probably even get hired at one at this rate, as they didn't end up being partners and they're fairly old, etc.

This makes it sound easy, but I wouldn't say their experiences have been easy (we certainly went through spells of being flush followed by long periods of extreme poverty, bankruptcy, selling everything we owned, etc. And this was when I was still a teenager). So, if you value making a steady salary, not-for-profits and other, less-stressful 9-to-5 avenues might be a good way to go. Their lifestyle was certainly not Don Draper's.
posted by Miss T.Horn at 10:06 PM on April 20, 2015

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