‘The advertising industry is a day-to-day unrelenting grind’: Why agencies should unionize

Digiday 13 Jun 2019 04:01

“Once the first agency unionizes it gets easier for everyone else,” wrote a strategist on the industry message board app Fishbowl two weeks ago.

The comment was made as part of a question and answer session on unionizing and agencies set up by Fishbowl, as the question of why agencies by and large haven’t unionized is a curious one. A number of agency employees in myriad agency roles — strategist, creative director, project manager, art director, digital media planner, producer and more — participated, with Splinter senior writer Hamilton Nolan, who organized a union at Gawker four years ago, answering the questions.

Questions and concerns were varied. What would this do to creative? To pitches? Could unionizing at agencies cause more in-housing? Wouldn’t agencies fire employees for forming a union? What became clear is that interest in unionizing may be brewing at agencies. One art director on the app put it succinctly: “I hear a lot of talk about it.”

The interest makes sense as agency culture is rife with issues — long hours, unpaid overtime, burnout, diversity and inclusion to and more. , 32% are worried about their mental health; 33% say they have been harassed; 39% say they have been discriminated against, with women more likely to be discriminated against than men; 21% say they have been discriminated against due to their race and 54% have experienced ageism.

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DigidayHamilton NolanScott GoodsonUnionizingWPP
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