Monday, 20 February 2017


Tom Goodwin is an Executive Vice President and head of Innovation at Zenith Media. Here’s what he said last week on Linkedin:

“Living in New York and working in advertising I rarely see people over the age of fifty.  I'm never exposed to, let alone have the pleasure of working alongside them. This is one of the worst things about working in marketing right now.  As an industry we're obsessed with youth, we're endlessly trying to get "upwardly mobile Millennials" or "hard to reach youthful influencers" or some nonsensical and largely broke crowd who can't afford the premium SUV we have on offer. Meanwhile we've not looked around the BA First Lounge or the Hyatt Hotel lobby, or the Emirates Business class cabin to see that all the people with money and influence are actually rather old. And wise.

Occasionally, on the rare events where I get to listen to some of the wonderful old folk of advertising, it quickly makes me realize how much we as an industry suffer from a lack of wisdom. We have incredible levels of vision, an abundance of precociousness, brilliant creativity, but as an industry we pretty much have no wisdom at all.”

Personally being one of those “wonderful old folk of advertising” I found myself in profound agreement with Tom who is still in his 30s.

In Japan where the concept of mentoring has always been taken more seriously, “senpai” is someone of a higher age, or senior and “kōhai” is a protégé or junior. Wisdom there is a prized commodity whereas here it’s all over when you hit 50 or 60.  Yet watching Liz Truss our Justice Secretary, a gangling 42 year old and clearly out of her depth, I lamented the lost wisdom of predecessors like Ken Clarke and  Jack Straw, Poor, young Liz. There was no justice in putting her in that job without the gravitas and wisdom to clothe her naked inexperience.

Cats like the aged have a problem too. They kill allegedly 55 million birds a year in the UK.  Their DNA is shockingly obvious. They are predators and pretty selfish creatures.  But the most successful pets in the world numerically.

Their relaunch comes in a new design. The more sedate pussy. Welcome to the “sausage cat” - apparently it’s a fashion wow (or miaow) in America coming your way soon - slowly.

Cats and the aged are not much alike but like cats we aged need to become more visible. We need to review how we’re perceived and relaunch ourselves if our “wisdom” and thoughtfulness is to be treated more seriously. Too many of us are grumpy, petulant lamenters of lost youth - critics of the young rather than enthusiastic spectators and coaches of a youth potentially better than we ever were. We need to get out of BA First lounges and start working again to show how useful we can be and how we can complement the skills of today’s dynamic leaders.

TOMORROW - an additional blog from Richard.

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