A note from a pissed off wife.

/ Comments (4)

Just as Ben Affleck was on the Oscars frantically claiming that his marriage was the best job he'd ever had, we received this anonymous missive in our in box. Sound like anyone you know? Hell, sound like everyone you know?


It is Sunday evening of Oscars weekend I'm sitting on my couch with my 3 dogs dressed to impress for a long-anticipated date with my husband. Except he's now 45 minutes late.

He finally walks in the door and is a whirlwind of frustration because he can only be home with me for an hour and a half and then has at least 3 more hours worth of work ahead of him this evening. His state of mind tells me dinner will be a bust even if we do go. So, I do the mature thing…and I cry.

I should precede this by letting you know I've spent a decade in the ad industry myself. In fact, I'm still in it. But I've made some choices.

When is this incredibly smart and capable industry going to realize we aren't saving lives? We're in advertising. Let's get real. Why all the all-nighters? The broken promises? The skipped plans with friends and families because you're stuck at the office? The guilt?

I get the rush of a new piece of business you've worked hard for, for the beauty of a well-tailored spot when you hear it on-air for the first time, but at what cost are we doing this?

I've seen so many people burn out of this industry to become teachers, sales reps, go to graduate school…because the hours are so unreasonable and for really, no reason at all. At what point are the people of this industry going to realize there is more to life than 2am eating cold pizza while staring at Excel until your eyes burn and your contacts dry out?

I'm trying to start a movement within our industry. Take back your life. Reclaim a hobby you used to have before you started working for an agency. Start a new hobby. Or, in my case, spend time with your wife. Because at the end of the day, it isn't going to be the agency holding your hand on your deathbed, crying with you through the passing of your father or proudly taking family pictures on Easter Sunday. It's going to be your wife, your family, your friends.

Go home at 6pm and stop trying to save the world through a creative brief. Shit, go home at 8pm, it's still better than what your average nightly clock-in time is. Stop looking at your Blackberry. There's nothing important happening at 10pm anyway.

Most importantly, as my former boss always said in regards to a strategic plan, "L, take a step back and look at the big picture." Come on guys, let's look at the big picture together. We're in advertising and we'll all be just fine if we step away for a little while to take time for the things that really matter.

PS: My husband is back at the office. Can someone let him know I wrote this?


If your husband is a creative and is pulling the long hours all the time then it's a sign he works with a shitty account team that makes unrealistic timelines for the work that needs to be done. If your husband is on the account side and pulling long hours all the time it means one of two things..either the client is shitty and makes unrealistic demands or he has shitty management that makes unrealistic demands and puts too much work on his plate and/or refuses to hire more employees to handle the work load. Either way it's shitty. The number one goal of every person in the ad biz is to make sure that you are doing everything you can to get all of your co-workers to leave the office every day at 5. Yes 5. And not to work on the weekends. If everything you do no matter what your job function goes towards making sure that you don't make your co-workers stay late then everyone will be happier, more productive and better work will happen naturally. Clients will be happier, more and better work will come your way and you'll have less hours in the shrink chair and more hours to spend on the beach. Work harder and smarter...not longer. The brain is a sponge and if you keep squeezing and squeezing more and more out without any time to put anything back in it you're going to do shitty work and it's going to take much longer to do that work versus working with a full brian which is nimble and quick.
So be considerate of all your co-workers and make your number one priority at your job doing what you need to do everyday to help get all your co-workers out the door every day at 5.

Maybe I have worked in an alternate universe for the last ten years

"The number one goal of every person in the ad biz is to make sure that you are doing everything you can to get all of your co-workers to leave the office every day at 5. Yes 5."

Maybe every single person I have ever worked with, ever agency I have ever worked at has also been existing in this alternate universe. Maybe in this alternate universe whenever I mention the need to go home before 10pm, take a few hours off to go to a funeral, doctors appointment or important even in my childs life I am not told "If you cant stay and do it theres a line of people outside the front door who will."

GO home at 5pm. OH wait.. theres little piggies in sky and they are all flying in a lovely shape. Fly little piggies fly.

I completely agree with this letter. The power is with us. We can control our lives. Advertising does not have to rule us.

I'm fortunate to be in a team that proves it. I work at one of the major agencies for national/multinational clients and we work together to make sure we don't work together too much. We leave by 6:00 everyday (if not earlier) and have yet to pull an all nighter (in 3.5 years). We only work weekends if there is a pitch and if we work one weekend, the rule is we don't work the next. All this while winning lions and doing work we genuinely love. As a result we all love work. BUT it took all of us working together to make it happen.

And in response to the second comment. If that's the reply you're getting, you should have quit 10 years ago. Not all agencies are like that.

First of all, why would your three dogs be dressed to the nines? Were they planning on joining you for dinner?

Second, if you're still in the business, then unfortunately you know that's just how it is. Not all the time. Not every day. But it's not like a bank. Nobody locks the door at 5PM. As long as we have email and clients, the door is always open.

I don't know who the first anonymous commenter is, but lets be honest, at one time or another, every client makes unrealistic demands. And lots of agencies, fearful of losing a big client, jump through that unrealistic hoop. And once you've satisfied one unrealistic demand, the demands just get more unrealistic and more frequent. If your agency is account driven, it's up to senior account management to slow that down. If it's creatively driven, then senior creative management. If neither one of then will stand up for their teams, then you're stuck with it. And as far as working on the weekends, come on. Has this person ever been on a shoot? Had to meet a delivery date? That comment is just silly. Like anything else, weekends happen. Not every weekend, but they do.

Anonymous #2, it sounds like you just work for an asshole. I'll bet you leave a lot of your vacation days on the table every year. You should use them to take a week off and look for a new job. I mean really look, like it's your job to find a job. I feel bad for you. Good luck.

Anonymous #3, that's fantastic. It sounds like you've got a great group to work in, where everybody watches each other's back. More importantly, it sounds like you've got an extremely reasonable client. That's awesome. However, you could pick up your entire team and drop them into a different national/multinational client situation and watch how fast your 6PM leaves and free weekends and sleep filled nights magically disappear. You've got a great thing going. Treasure it.

I work at an agency somewhere between the two. I get home around 7PM most nights, time enough to put my kids to bed. But there are later nights, and frequent shoots out of town. But there's a balance.

No matter how you slice it, agency life is not a 9 to 5 job (well, maybe for finance and media types). It never has been and it never will be. You just have to strike a balance that works for you.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Link = <a href="http://url.com">This is your text</a>
  • Image = <img src="http://imageurl.jpg" />
  • Bold = <strong>Your Text</strong>
  • Italic = <em>Your Text</em>
Rocket Fuel