A US copywriter happened upon B&T’s Changing The Ratio articles and conference. A victim of ageism himself, he fired off this email to us. It raises some very important issues that resonate in adland in Australia, too. B&T’s running it in full, but has agreed to the author’s anonymity…
I am a 47-year-old creative that is at his wit’s end.
For the last 13 weeks, I have been wracking my brain as to why I have been given such short shrift by agencies looking for experienced copywriters.
My first indication that age discrimination was at play was when I interviewed for Republica, a very well-known and decorated agency based here in Miami. They were looking to fill a copywriter role for a travel/tourism client, a sector of the marketplace that I have a good deal of experience in. In general, I thought the interview went well, but I thought it was odd that the CD with the salt and pepper beard and Dolce & Gabbana eyeglasses kept impressing on me that the work expected of me was going to be hard.
After a while, I jokingly asked if he was trying to intimidate or scare me. It didn’t dawn on me that he was probably questioning whether I had the requisite endurance or wherewithal to be up to the task.
After about a week, I get notified via LinkedIn that an ex-classmate of mine had won the job. She is a svelte, attractive, 29 or 30 year old woman of Venezuelan descent. Her book is very underwhelming and had one example of travel/tourism work that was average, at best. The copy across her portfolio was fraught with typographical and grammatical errors due to the fact that English is her second language.
She obviously didn’t think it was important enough to hire a native English speaking copywriter to correct such things. For the record, I am a second generation, bilingual, Cuban-American so I hold no prejudices.
That said, it became painfully obvious to me, that Republica’s “culture” would be better suited with someone like her over someone like me walking down their hallways. For God’s sake, they brought in this girl, yes a girl, a size zero with impeccable Mocha-colored skin that looked like a Disney-fied version of Pocahontas, to ask me if writing for one brand, as opposed to the many I had been writing for, would be a problem.
I never even received the perfunctory, “Thanks for coming in but we’re going in another direction” email. They just ghosted me (see, I’m hip!)
I loved what you said about fishing where the fish are. The amount of money big shops are losing for their clients is astronomical. I’m a Gen Xer, but I know the Millennial audience as well as they know themselves.
(English primatologist and anthropologist) Jane Goodall didn’t have to become a chimpanzee to understand how they thought, so why should someone’s age preclude them from understanding the ways in which someone from another generation thinks and feels? It’s social anthropology writ small.
If you’ve gotten this far then I must ask you, “What am I to do?” I love this business and I’m damn good at it but, I must confess, learning an honest, well-paying trade, like welding or woodworking, that isn’t encumbered by trends, pretence and political bullshit looks better to me with every passing day.