The Human Toll
To describe a recent visit to Ford’s Dearborn marketing offices only two words are needed: empty; sad.
Offices, cubicles, meeting rooms, break areas that were once filled with marketing professionals — talented, often dedicated creative people — were devoid of everything except remnants of their former life. Pictures, posters and paraphernalia of Ford, Lincoln and Mercury cars, trucks, SUVs, racecars and concepts were tacked or taped to walls literally waiting for someone to take them down. As it is they are simply fading into history.
Change the venue by simply substituting the name of another automotive brand from the Detroit Three. Only the vehicles change. The emptiness reigns supreme. Even international brands have fallen prey to this economic demon.
Change from the client to the agency side and the situation is duplicated. From the big name, big shops with big clients and big budgets to the sometimes big, but usually small creative services shops and suppliers — layoffs, cut-backs, pink slips, down-sizing, de-hires are epidemic and endemic.
Freelancers, the self-unemployed, who are hired on a project basis, have been virtually eliminated, even though they are not paid benefits.
One longtime friend and a compassionate owner of a highly successful creative services company was near tears as he described the first time people had to be laid off from his company. “They’re not employees, they’re family,” he said, choking back emotion.
A former associate creative director entering advanced middle age, with a blended family ranging from pre-schoolers to near college-age kids, told me he was “terrified” of his future ability to earn a living … anywhere!
Professionally and personally, the misery is staggering in human terms. For those who have worked in automotive advertising industry there literally is no vocational future until the economic situation changes. (more…)