It’s B&T’s Celebration Of Adland’s Over 50s! Meet DDB Sydney’s Ben Welsh

It’s B&T’s Celebration Of Adland’s Over 50s! Meet DDB Sydney’s Ben Welsh

Did you miss the latest print edition of B&T? Well, if you did, you need to urgently subscribe here.

And undoubtedly one of the standout features in the bumper new print edition is B&T’s ’15 Over 50′ feature that shines a light on some of the mature, wiser sages of Australia’s advertising, marketing and media industries.

With ageism an ongoing issue throughout adland, ’15 Over 50′ highlights the importance of having a few “grey hairs” about the place and the huge loss of experience, expertise and knowledge that exits when industry veterans quit for greener pastures.

In today’s profile we meet DDB Sydney’s chief creative officer Ben Welsh. He claims to be born in 1962 and yet “remains just 27 years old”.

Here’s his experience in his own words:

Winemaker or copywriter? Back in 1989 that was the decision facing me. I left it to fate. If I didn’t get into advertising, I’d head off to Roseworthy College to study winemaking. But I did, so I didn’t. Recently I combined my love of writing with my love of wine by starting a blog. Feel free to read it at What I love most about the industry is the opportunities. I can remember early on in my career thinking how much money had been spent on my ideas and how many people had seen them. Wow! Still amazes me. No other creative occupation supplies such a constant stream of opportunity. Lately, these have increased, as our view of what an ad can be has changed.

One thing that needs to change? If it’s only one, I’d suggest it’s time the industry reminded what it’s here for. We are in the business of commercial creativity. DDB is very clear on this and I’m proud that we are doing great work that works.

Why do 50-plus year olds leave the industry? Advertising in Australia is definitely ageist. Particularly for creatives, where 40 is considered old and God help you if you’re over 50. The digital and social revolutions have forced a lot of people out too. But there are plenty of exceptions – Keith Rheinhard is still busy at DDB New York, aged 84. Closer to home, I can think of a couple of very successful creative directors who are well into their sixties. I suspect they all have one thing in common; a love of the industry and the ability to remain young at heart.

The boss gives you one month off work starting tomorrow. How do you spend that time?

My first reaction is ‘recovering’. But maybe recharging is a more accurate response. I’d fly to Samoa and sail back to Sydney on my mate’s yacht (one advantage of being over 50 is having successful friends who have retired and started ocean racing).

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  • Luke Chess 9 months ago

    Ok, so you’re showing people over 50 now. That’s good. But if you focus only on over-50s in incredibly senior positions like Ben, then you’re really saying that there are very, very few jobs for the older and wiser: those at the apex of the pyramid.

    There are 50+yo writers, art directors, designers, illustrators, account folk and planners around. They may not have clawed over others to climb the corporate ladder, but rather sought balance, raised kids, cared for parents or many other things. To bust ageism, theirs might be the better stories to tell.

Ben Welsh DDB Sydney

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