Does anyone at the Junior or mid-level here not aspire to be a creative director? I was in a conversation with some coworkers today about the advertising career ladder. Whether from lack of desire or ability to manage others, not everybody will rise to CD level. Does anyone here want to stay a writer or art director your whole career instead of moving into a management position? And is that even possible without aging out or getting priced out?

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I wish it was more mainstream to stay a senior creative. Being a CD is a different job. And it’s often lame. There’s a reason WK has so many senior teams who are 15 year or more experience. Making the work is the best part of the job. Not arguing with clients about banner strategies.

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I aspire to finally get a promotion/raise after almost 2 years 🤡

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We call these people freelancers and they make soooo much money

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I think as a junior or mid, all you can see is that path to CD. When you get older and start getting more CD assignments, you start to see “Ugh, this is more about politics and management than creativity.” But yeah I find it hard to age and request more salary without absorbing more managerial responsibilities along with it. Gotta give them their money’s worth I guess.

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I wish advertising was more like engineering—where there’s a management track and a principle track. You can get equally senior in either, but one is focused on managing teams and the other is focused on craft. They are entirely different skills, yet CDs in our industry are expected to do both! Unfortunately it might just be inherent in the nature of our industry —in order to manage well, you need to be a strong craft perosn yourself. And in order to make great things, you need the team.

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I don’t see myself becoming a CD. I’m happy where I am, maybe a step higher. I MIGHT change my mind in several years after i finish having kids and they get older, but I doubt it. I don’t need to be working ~14 hours a day like i see our CDs do. Hard pass.

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I used to not really want to do it, but then a CD opportunity arose to do it and felt like I had to take it. And I hated it for the first two years. Year three things got better. Year four I started to come around and like it. And now I actually enjoy the job, even though there are many things about it that have already been mentioned upthread that are incredibly annoying and draining. But I try to be hands on in areas where I think I’m actually helping my teams do better work, and I get to be a regular creative whenever I’m asked to participate in a pitch. Plus, the higher salary is very nice.

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This is actually nice to hear.

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i’d rather not have to be talking to clients and account and strategy all day every day. and have to go to client functions. and answer calls on the weekend. and take the blame for every misstep. and feign enthusiasm all the time for the “culture.” for like 50k more a year? no thanks.

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I still don’t aspire to be a CD, even after 13 years at it.

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By it I meant being a creative, not a CD.

This is common. When I was younger it didn’t make sense but I get it now.

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I’ve just realized I don’t want to stay in advertising that long. Creative directors that work with us don’t sleep, are always stressed and...I have no idea when they actually spend time with their families.

Ugh yes and it’s a struggle. There’s a constant push to move people up the ladder quickly. Our juniors and mid-level creatives stay at each level max 1-2 years, sometimes less, and then what? Not everyone can get to or wants to be a CD or higher. I feel the pressure and have tried to make it clear that I want to be doing the work and not playing politics, but not sure that sentiment reaches the higher-ups. If it does, I worry it reflects badly on me for not being more ambitious (eye roll). I’d be perfectly happy as a senior level creative for the rest of my career, even if my salary caps out at a certain point, minus cost of living increases. But hustle culture would probably call that stagnant. There’s no winning unless you find a team/agency that understands not every creative is cut out to be in a leadership role and that it’s perfectly ok.

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