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Covid-19 pressed ‘reset’ on the way we live and work and with crisis comes opportunity. For the advertising, design and communication industry in Ireland, starting over again with a hill to climb offers the opportunity to shed baggage.  So let’s identify things that have held us back. (Feel free to identify your own). 

Here’s four things we can, and should, leave behind. 

1: The Long Wait for Payment  

Small traders need to be paid quickly. With few agencies in Ireland having over 50 employees and so qualifying as ‘medium’, by definition most suppliers in the Irish advertising and design industry are small

Pre-Covid, it has not been uncommon for small set-ups and one-person-bands to be made wait for a season before even a modest invoice gets paid. Bill the work in Winter, get paid in Spring. Imagine going into a new restaurant, having a meal in January and telling them you’ll pay them in April… but only after they’ve called and emailed you multiple times and said ‘please’ a lot. And don’t forget to point out that you eat in a number of places, have a nephew who’s a trainee chef, and may move house at short notice – or for some other reason may just not be back. 

Good clients and good agencies should be responsible managers of their supply chain and slow payment creates a motivational deadzone where no one wants to work with you. Dan O’Brien, Chief economist at the Institute of International and European Affairs, has said of the current pandemic situation: “For those who have money, spend it. Businesses need revenues to survive and keep their staff employed.”

People can’t spend while waiting to get paid for work done and billed three or four months ago. It’s now a matter of survival. 

Post-Covid: We should all pay fairly and fast. Make sure people are looked after. Suggestion: Perhaps IAPI, the AAI and Ibec could together agree a 5-for-10 badge – signalling that participants offer a 5% discount to customers or suppliers that signed up to pay invoices within 10 days?

2: Pitches

Pitches are now, as they have always been, a spectacularly stupid waste of money and time. Picture the repetitive tableau. A team of artificially dour people looking for something for nothing (Team A) spend two hours sitting opposite a team of  artificially cheerful people (Team B) who’ve been working for nothing for four weeks on a makey-uppy brief. Putting your business out to pitch at all in a market the size of Ireland (to keep with hospitality analogies) is like looking for free coffee in all of the coffeeshops in Skibbereen on the basis that you might pay for the coffee you like the best. Any marketeer worth her salt will already know the best agencies and their current work – or will simply have found the best cup in town for their taste already. (In this analogy, the marketeer is a native of Skibbereen and has coffee there every week for a living). Pitches are productivity misspent on a grand scale. To complete the analogy, the coffee-seekers may actually realise they only wanted decaffeinated Earl Grey tea or decide to go to Clonakilty instead.  

Post-Covid: All work should be paid work. Instead of putting your business out to pitch, do desk research. Give good people a project. Or just give them all your business with a decent contract. Let’s get moving. 

3: Unpaid interns, Underpaid staff

Any product subsidised by unpaid or underpaid labour is misleadingly priced. We all need to support others in business by paying what things cost, not what they can be sold for if someone goes unpaid or is left short. We have to make this industry as attractive as possible to the brightest people. Clients and agencies are in this together.

Post-Covid: Why should anyone get short-changed in the service of commerce and profit? Everybody should be properly paid and if that means the price reflects the true cost of production, so be it. Time to get real.

4. Stop the Brain Drain: Grey matters

IAPI census tells us (as though our eyes couldn’t) that only 5% of people in Irish advertising are aged 50 or older. Some agencies even have a policy of retiring people at 60. Any older people willing to stay must be retained in the industry because they represent a cohort of consumer that is important to the economy. Besides, what sensible client in a post-traumatic world doesn’t want the reassurance of an experienced person working on their business, when the work is more important than ever as business itself strives to survive? 

Post-Covid: We should all value life a little more – and life experience. 

Eoghan is founder of Brand Artillery

https://www.linkedin.com/in/eoghan-nolan-19301115/

@brandartillery on Twitter