Day in the Life: Merriam-Webster’s social media manager subtweets truth to power

The year is 2017, and the resistance is being led by a dictionary. Merriam-Webster’s Twitter account has become a delight in the months after the election for many fascinated by its woke, liberal attitude. But the woman behind the account, content and social media manager Lauren Naturale, insists it’s not political. While the new attention is strange, it’s also exciting. But, she said, “we’ve been doing a lot of interesting things for a while. And we’re not political, so I hope people don’t hang around and just get disappointed after.”

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Hacked By GeNErAL

Agencies being squeezed by low margins or no margins are trying to cut costs in other ways. One human side effect: undue pressure on junior level employees, who are working 80-hour weeks and often don’t see any compensatory upside. Josh Jamal, a freelancer, experienced this at a small agency. An account manager, Jamal, a millennial and a relatively junior employee, was brought on as part of an eight-person account team — but within a few weeks, three of the team left. “In the ensuing shake-up, I was added to several accounts, bringing my total accounts to five,” he said. All in all, he began to do about 75 hours of work a week. “It was brutal,” he said.

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Paltry pay at agencies leads to moonlighting millennials

Low agency salaries mean that more agency millennials are looking to other sources of income. For example, R/GA’s Derrell Smith has a meatball shop, while Maxus’ Sebastian Lizazoro is a deejay. “I make enough to live on but not more than that, since I’m just starting out,” said Smith, who uses 99 Meatballs for rent and expenses and his work check for savings. For HR folks, it’s a reality they’re getting used to, with agencies putting in place more flex policies to account for this.

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When agencies focus on ‘culture,’ they can get exclusion instead

Cultural fit is supposed to be a way for agencies to hire people who fit with their mission or values. It’s hugely important, say agency leaders, especially in creative disciplines where it’s harder to quantify someone’s skills. But it can be used as a way to keep people out: When a copywriter applied to a big agency on the West Coast, he was asked, “What’s your favorite television show?” People also ask other things, like if you play sports and what you like to do after work.

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‘It’s sad it’s come to this’: Confessions of an agency CMO on diversity quotas

We asked an agency new business executive to tell us what she thinks of diversity quotas like what brands like General Mills and HP are demanding. It’s frustrating, said this executive, who is sad that it has had to come to this. At the same time, she’s worried that quotas will force hiring of non-qualified people as agencies get into a panic.

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Sled dogs and glacier climbing: Inside Alaskan agency Spawn

Take every headline about ad agencies and throw it out of the window: Spawn Ideas is the antithesis of everything on Madison Avenue. The agency, based in Anchorage, Alaska, prides itself on an outdoor-first culture, according to CEO Karen King. (That’s because it’s actually rude to ask what you do in Alaska — you always start conversations asking what outdoor sports people do.) Each week, throughout the summer, Spawn employees go on a “Peak-a-Week” summiteering expedition together. There’s also lots of fishing, kayaking and, in the winter, dog-sledding.

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‘I was invisible’: How agency ageism affects those 50-plus

There are many types of discrimination inside agencies. But even as people become more aware of gender and, to a lesser extent, racial discrimination, ageism is rarely discussed. It turns out, age discrimination suits are hard to bring. Agencies often use (perfectly legal) excuses like “young people don’t know how to do digital.” But ageism comes with its costs, especially in elements that are lost, like the loss of strategic know-how or even a long-term client relationship.

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‘Ideas are nipped to death’: Confessions of a black copywriter

While gender diversity is a topic that is getting a lot of rightful attention in the agency space, the issue of race in the agency space remains largely neglected. A black copywriter told Digiday that blacks –and other creatives of color– often experience a “slow, energized, nipping and tucking of their ideas.” 

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Kevin Roberts and the conversation no one is actually having about agency diversity

Kevin Roberts made some comments about the gender diversity debate being “over.” It’s not over — it’s just moved. Over conversations with female ad executives, it’s clear that a picture of a more dangerous type of sexism is emerging on Madison Avenue. Increased focus on diversity has led to quotas that ignore the fact that women are being placed mostly in admin roles — as long as they’re women, it doesn’t matter.

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Your daily reminder that it still sucks to be female in the agency world

Lisa Leone, a freelance creative director with experience at agencies including Leo Burnett, BBDO and JWT, wrote a scathing piece on Medium about her 15 years in the agency world — years that included being passed over for promotions; propositioned by her creative partner; outrightly being told not to talk in a meeting; and being told that firms had reached their “female quota” for the year and so she couldn’t be hired. It’s your daily reminder that agency sexism still exists.

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