{ "media_type": "text", "post_content": "Being an ACD that’s over 40, I feel people wonder why am I not a CD or ECD yet. I was a late bloomer in advertising, didn’t aggressively chase advancement, and made the mistake of staying at agencies way too long, so I climbed up slowly.", "post_id": "5f0c8742a5965e0020c00f3f", "reply_count": 37, "vote_count": 11, "bowl_id": "593db9d38ab4fe0016554964", "bowl_name": "Over 40 in Advertising" }

Being an ACD that’s over 40, I feel people wonder why am I not a CD or ECD yet. I was a late bloomer in advertising, didn’t aggressively chase advancement, and made the mistake of staying at agencies way too long, so I climbed up slowly.

likeupliftinghelpful
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I rose through the ranks slowly doing great work, doing work required, being both strategic business minded and enjoyed a long career as an SVP CD AD, I always answered the call of duty, it did not matter if it was a weekend, or weekends, vacations postponed, I showed up ready and more than willing. And then at some point the people who never did an ad in their lives decide you are to expensive, and it is your time to walk, box with belongings in hand, past your newly ex coworkers, all wishing you the best, you diing inside knowing that you are leaving the best behind. You are leaving still filled with passion for the craft, smarts, hard earned skills. They didn’t take that away from you. You were once the go-to-guy and now you are gone guy. The only mistake you made was getting older in an industry that considers that a sin. So enjoy where you are, ACD, CD, ECD, and treasure the partners and friends made, that and the thrill of doing great work are the things that stay long after the job leaves you.

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Nailed it.

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I graduated ad school in the early 2000’s. I ain’t saying which one. At least one person I graduated with is creative head of a network. A few are CCO’s and ECD’s. A bunch are GCD’s. I can’t count the number of CD’s. IMO, the kind of work most agencies do nowadays isn’t the “big idea” stuff which is what I went to school for. And even if you present big ideas, many CD’s are either scared of it, don’t understand it, or say, “That’s cool, but we just need a banner ad.” That’s been my experience, anyways. I was a staff ACD for a bit. If you like doing the work and hate figuring out excel spreadsheets and FTE hours allocations and all the other stuff that comes with managing accounts and schedules, then maybe senior CW/AD or ACD level is perfect for you. Now I’m 49 and expect to get offered a senior writer role here soon. COVID has decimated this business. Finding any job is a major miracle, IMO. Everyone has their moments. Sometimes I’m like “I could be a CD.” But those thoughts never help. I’ll be grateful for that senior writer role and I know I can do a great job. COVID has also caused me to consider other things...like getting an MBA in a business I love (it’s a very specific program). Who knows what the future holds, but I’m not bitter to (potentially) be a senior writer at 49. I’m thankful. I like advertising. I know I can do this job well. Hopefully the fact o don’t have gray hair will keep people from assuming I’m an old advertising troll looking for a bridge to hide under. Plus, I’ll get to explore a new city with this potential job. And the career journey has certainly been interesting lol, minus a trip to Cannes. I did get a One Show merit one time though 😂

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Feel ya. I have recruiters (children, mostly) asking me why I’m “only” a CD after 25 years—because i did the work, do the work, and have never been a vapid, empty, career-managing dipshit. 🤷🏻‍♂️

likefunny

Depends on the size of the agency. If you are a CD who can’t still roll up sleeves and write or art direct, tangibly, then frankly I have no use for you and your agency probably shouldn’t either. I think you’re confusing “doing the work” with “stealing all the opportunity from those who work with and under you”. Big difference.

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I was an ACD in the 90’s. A CD, GCD, and ECD in early 2000’s. For the last 8 years I’ve been an ACD again. Trust me, the ACD role is where you want to be. You’re doing the hands on work. You contribute to the SOW and bottom line. You spend less time managing b.s. and more time doing what the CDs wish they were doing! And best of all, as long as you keep being creative (and don’t get overpaid for your title) you’ve got a job!

likesmart

Freelance 1, how did I go from ECD to an ACD? I got lucky. I lost my job as an ECD in early 2010. It was the recession and I was expensive. I was out of work (mostly) for 3 years (like thousands of others). After dozens of interviews and hundreds of unanswered queries I landed a freelancing copywriting gig, that led to an offer as an ACD. I took it! It paid half of what I was making 3 years earlier, but I had kids in college, and all the bills that come with adulthood. Since then I’ve had 3 full time jobs as an ACD and couldn’t be busier, happier, and all my bills are paid.

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I have no problem with that. I love having experienced ACDs on my teams.

likeuplifting

How old are you?

Climb slowly, descend slowly. It works.

likeupliftingsmart

Hi I’m a senior and I’m in my 40s thanks

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I am too, for a lot of the same reasons, so you’re not alone! For me, in addition to all that, I also started in the studio as a graphic designer and did that for a long time, before deciding to switch to creative- making the switch took a few years, too, so I wasn’t even a mid level copywriter until my mid-30s (yes, I switched from art to copy, too!) I get the same feeling sometimes, like I should be way ahead of where I am for my age, but you know, all things considered, I’ve done and continue to do a bunch of good work, and I feel like I’ll get there someday...

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If you’re making work that you’re proud of, don’t feel so bad. As you rise through the ranks, you’re less and less involved with the work and more so with management and the politics. And that takes a huge portion of the fun out of the game.

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Same scenario but an Art Director. It is frustrating being on a team and knowing that you can outperform some of those with a title or two above yours. As those above have stated it seems like we progressed naturally, where as some of the new guard took a course in Art Direction and graduated into that position. I think that approach has cheapened the title a bit. Not that these graduates are not talented or capable. But their lack of real world experience means that employers won’t necessarily pay the same rate as an experienced art director, which ends up reducing the overall salary range.

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Ditto on the 40-something ACD. Truth is that though I have great strategic insights and ECDs actually look to me for advice, I don’t have the personality required to play the political type roles demanded of more senior positions. I truly wish I did though b/c that’s where the real money is.

likehelpful

Same situation. I won't mind as much if I'm actually reporting to capable CDs. It's frustrating when you've been around enough to know what a good CD is because you've worked with them or you could be doing the job itself because the CD is really operating like a senior creative.

The people who are really good at the work and spend their time there rather than on politics don’t move up as fast. Sad but true. In my experience if they do make it into leadership positions, they are better leaders. I just know the last thing I ever want to do is be a CCO if the job is just doing talks and writing articles for PR while occasionally calling clients to reassure them that you value their business.

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I am close to age 97 (in agency years). The best things I did for myself is to stop comparing to others and stop giving myself arbitrary deadlines. It is true that as a result, I do not have the higher title that some of my peers do, but I also don’t have the stress of worrying about it.

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I’m about to go to ACD after 10 years in the biz at 41. I love doing the work. I may not try to climb beyond ACD, certainly not beyond CD. I want to do and manage the work, not the business. When young dingdong‘s ask you questions like that, tell them the truth. When I share my POV to questions like this I almost always see a lightbulb go on in their head. When you’re early in your career, especially in this industry, the only thing that’s lauded is climbing as high up as fast as possible. Considering the ageism in this industry and the shelflife of these careers, I really don’t understand the rush. Do it your way, don’t feel bad about it. young people don’t define you. They judge you, but that’s their shortsightedness.

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Also I truly believe the only people who care about being over 40 are those over 40. Age is not an arbiter of talent. Phil Hartman didn’t even audition for SNL until he was 38.

likeuplifting

I turned 40 this year and I’m still trying to make ACD. I feel the same way, but I know I’m capable and prepared. I finally have a boss who is really trying to push for my promotion, but now with COVID-related hiring and promotion freezes who knows how much longer it could take.

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Exact same story here. I never wanted CD/ECD tho. And my salary has been commensurate to my experience so I’m very comfortable. Titles man. Who needs em.

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Good luck to you. I hope you are happy regardless of what your signature says.

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I appreciate your post. Same boat. 41 Sr. Art Director. Though my creative partner and I act and have responsibilities much more like somewhere between ACD and CD. We are paid comfortably enough, though a little more would always be helpful. But I’m glad we don’t have the maximum pressures our CD’s and GCD does. Just try and do a solid job each and every day, and give some decent guidance to the team under me. Really grateful for your post.

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I want to say, I am loving all of your replies. Thanks for helping me not feel so alone in my situation.

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