Dubai Consumer Mirror

Friday, April 21, 2006

The endangered 'agencies' list

There is a new player in town that everyone in the agency business is talking about... An agency that is attracting people from right, left and center! G... WONder which agency they are talking about.

Its not only snatching clients from other agencies, its also placing too-tempting-to-say-no-to offers to top talents in other Tier 1 PR agencies.

Word on the street is that some heads of other agencies are applying sudden and desperate counter-tactics to hold on to their overworked and under paid staff. So desperate to the point some of those heads made up new positions in the org-chart just to promote their people onto.

Suddenly, those salary-reviews that were promised 3 years ago, are being scheduled to happen next week. And for the first time in its history, the MD of one particular agency informed his employees that they are all invited to staff party by the end of the month.

Other Agency heads are contacting some of their talented ex-employees, who already moved on to other agencies or clients 3 or 4 years ago, and offering them salaries they can’t even dream of. Just so that 'new comer' agency would not attract them instead.

This brings me to a question I always wanted to ask ... Isn't it about time to introduce a "profit sharing" rewarding scheme in advertising and PR agencies here? Isn’t it about time to show those hardworking mid-layer (client services, creative ..etc) troops some fair treatment and appreciation for a change?

I mean lets face it. Everyone knows that the average life-cycle for any mid level account handler in any agency here varies from 1 to 3 years tops! Why? cause they are so frustrated, it takes very little persuasion for them to move on.

Why? Well dig this...

In any typical agency, there is a huge gap between the paycheck of an Account Director and the next position down the line (Account manager). Sometimes that difference could reach Dhs 10k and above. What even worse is that, in some cases, the difference between an AD and an AM doesn't go beyond 2 years of experience.

Preferentialisim rulz in the agency world here. I know it for a fact that western expats are automatically 5k to 7k (if not more) higher paid than their Arab counterparts. Subcons fall even lower than that… Imagine working in a place where you have 3 account managers: one is driving a brand new CLK, another is driving a 1990 BMW and the third driving a sunny… can you feel the love in the air?

Appreciation and motivation are things of the past. Account handlers are the ground troops, foot soldiers, men and women on the frontlines. They work the longest hours, they put up with client arrogance, media intolerance and supplier incompetence.

Not only that, they have to report to people with a severe case of New-Manager syndrom. So-called "Team-leaders" that, in most cases, don't know anything about what they are doing and don't care about anything but making sure deliverables are delivered.

Though there are places that are great to work for, but such places are so hard to find, they should be on the endangered 'agencies' list.

Maybe this 'New Kid on the block' is not such a bad thing after all..


  • Hala Moryarti, kifak?

    Well seems like some people got a saaroo'7 lit under their behind. I mean as long as one is valued and paid according to ones race, even company parties are useless at the end of the day. Perhaps a good step in the right direction. But if the mentaliy remains, a westerner is better than a pakistani, and an arab is better than a pakistani (wether monetary or not) etc... well the change has to start there.

    Still it seems this new agency simply wants to attract talent, regardless of origin. In which case a positive effect might be the outcome on the other agencies getting their act together.

    By Blogger Shaykhspeara Sha'ira, at April 21, 2006 at 12:23 PM  

  • A company's got to treat their employees fairly from the start, and carry on that way.

    Reactions such as giving parties and salary reviews in response to the new agency are only stop-gap actions that are time-limited in their effectiveness to retain staff.

    You cannot heal the resentment caused by bad management practises by applying a band aid to a gaping wound requiring stitches.

    By Blogger nzm, at April 21, 2006 at 1:00 PM  

  • I've always thought the whole salary scale here is biased and unfair. Several things are wrong with it:

    1) Just as you stated, there is the flagrant discrepancy in salaries depending on where you come from. And this is not just the case for the advertising/PR happens across all indsutries

    2) There is a discrepancy between how much men and women are paid. Women will always be paid less, no matter what. Even some Western countries are still struggling with this particular issue. I do not work any less than the men around me, so why should I get less money? If you value my work, then pay me accordingly!

    3) Not sure if this still happens but it used to be that a married man with a family is paid much more than a single man with no family to take care of. Why? Because the married man has to provide for his family. Again, why is the pay not a function of how well you perform rather than what your marital status is?

    What we need is a body that regulates this sort of thing. An entity that would find out, for example, how much, on average, an Account Executive is getting paid across all advertising/PR agencies in the UAE, and make the information public.

    And, it's time agencies realise that their most important asset is their people, and that they should invest in the employees they have rather than always look elsewhere. The people are what makes or breaks an agency. If they want to attract quality talent, then they should be prepared to pay for it.

    Of course, money's not the only incentive to stay in a company. But it's an important part of the equation.

    By Blogger Dubai Sunshine, at April 21, 2006 at 3:26 PM  

  • I was thinking of moving to Dubai to work in Accounts Management.. I kind of got a good impression of the "agencies" world when I had an Interview with saatchi&Saatchi there.

    After Reading your piece, I'm changing my mind... seems like too much a hassle..

    By Blogger Mustapha, at April 21, 2006 at 3:36 PM  

  • Moryarti, it's why I gave up on the business. It used to be fun, it used to be professional. Now it's neither. Not just here either, I gave it up when I was back in Australia. The race discrimination is an added problem here of course, but that applies throughout society not just the industry.

    By Blogger Seabee, at April 21, 2006 at 10:35 PM  

  • SS - the new agency is attracting every other talent because its backed by a major holding company here in Dubai, So money is not an issue with them: they are skimming the cream now. Lets see how this agnecy will become in 1 year from now :)

    nzm - true, that’s why those agencies, and companies in general, really need to review their HR policies..

    Dxb Sunshine - you are talking about a union. And you know how "people" feel about it around here :)

    Mustapha - If you had the chance to work here, i strongly recommend it... The experience you can gain offsets any unfavorable working condition.

    Seabee - i think it is gonna be something that we have to "deal" with here. I just hope heads of companies can realize that proper work ethics and integrity will always have positive ROI..

    By Blogger moryarti, at April 22, 2006 at 9:35 AM  

  • Good god - I do hope Jiwin get some talent in. Many government companies currently have the most appallingly, embarrassingly poor PR representation. Some of the releases I have received from major, multi-million (and billion) organisations have been literally incomprehensible.

    By Blogger secretdubai, at April 23, 2006 at 8:49 AM  

  • Hi - Do you have an email address I can send you a question on?

    It's important - thanks!

    By Anonymous Dalia, at April 23, 2006 at 11:32 AM  

  • sure daila .. you can on dubaimirroratgmail

    By Blogger moryarti, at April 23, 2006 at 3:37 PM  

  • What's the name of this new agency?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at April 23, 2006 at 3:59 PM  

  • Good luck to the new agency. If the old guard continue to operate in an unscrupulous manner then they fully deserve to lose both staff and clients to the new kid in town. Take the hosts of the 'agency party' last week (the ones who did the last ditch attempt to save their staff by inventing new organisational categories instead of paying them more). They have just dumped the market leader in credit cards for a much smaller competitor simply because the cash was better and despite the ten year old relationship they had with the client - and all that without even telling their client up front. Instead they merely started to service the new account, while still servicing the old one using the same team, hoping, idiotically, that no one would notice!!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at April 25, 2006 at 5:29 PM  

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