Nonworking Media Spend: Another Buzz Word With Teeth

A recent article in Advertising Age discussed the idea of ‘nonworking media spend’ vs. working media vs. earned media and [for the love of Pete] owned media.  In short, the article discusses the rising requests from large companies, asking agency partners to trim down the cost of content production.

For example: spend less on creative, creative thinking, concepts, content, production and just give us red meat to throw at the masses. But whatever you do Agency Types…quit charging us for what you do best…creativity. God forbid we pay for your time…we just…can’t do…it.

The emergence of nonworking media spend is utter B.S. The idea that you take the creative out of the process and demand a lesser fee so the client can dump it into working media is understandable…however it does not work. Agencies create. They have entire teams who’s job depends on their creativity. Take that out of the mix and what do you have? Crap. That is what you have.

Here is the interesting thing: a recent article in the New York Times shows worker productivity growing while wages remain stagnant. Corporations bottom line continues to grow and only they [shareholders] profit from the work of their work-force. I can see a direct correlation between corporate America now turning to their ad agencies and asking the same. “Give us more for less.”

Companies are frequently asking for 45 plus hours a week without equal pay. Managers say, “Hey, you are lucky to even have a job.” More work, less pay means higher profits for shareholders. Really simple math.

On the agency side…I see the issue as well. Huge overhead and large personnel count equals large fees. Large fees do not always equate to quality or value. During my time spent in agency life I could not believe what was charged for the work preformed. It was a little mind blowing. Again, huge overhead…lots of bodies means large fees not necessarily large profits.

So where does this leave us? It will inevitably leave us in the hands that feed us. Unless you can prove value and take ownership of the job at hand. Even then, it may not be enough to survive heavy client demands without the compensation for time, effort, content, creative and execution.

There is the matter of self worth as well. What do you think your time is worth? What does your client think your time is worth? Who is right? You or them. I believe it is very subjective. Corporate wants more for less and agencies want what they believe is fair pay for fair work. The danger lies somewhere in the mist: making creative types commodities. Making peoples time a commodity.

Time waits for no one. Time is all we really do have control over. Or at least what we do with our time. As time is not promised to anyone…is time not our most valuable commodity? I believe so.

I do know that if the current trend turns into a norm…we will continue to have some pretty major socioeconomic issues. There is a filed that we can all play on – and all play on equal terms. Time is precious for all of us. Ergo – time is not free for others to ask as they will of us. Nonworking media spend is another buzz word with very very big teeth. But full disclosure of where time goes and what it is for may help take the bit out of this monster.