The startups of the tech boom made an appealing offer to marketers: less grueling work compared to long, draining hours at ad agencies, topped with the promise of equity. But as the startup world shrinks and equity dries up, the grass is no longer greener on the tech side. For some marketers, the best choice is to revamp their careers at ad agencies.
Digiday spoke with three marketers who recently left their in-house marketing jobs at technology companies to pursue positions at ad agencies. These marketers are searching for a renewed sense of purpose, community and variety in their work. At the same time, ad agencies are pursuing them for their highly sought-after skills, giving them the power to command the salaries they were making in tech.
The desire for variety and community
“People are coming back to the agency world, quite frankly, because they like to have more variety and creativity in their work,” said Sarah Pak, national vp of strategic accounts at the Robert Half-owned consulting group The Creative Group, which recruits on behalf of both the agency and client sides for holding companies like Omnicom and Havas and businesses like JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Bank of America. Although she said it is difficult to quantify, and there are no studies the firm has conducted that back up the trend yet, she said there has been a noticeable shift over the past 12 to 18 months of marketers moving away from technology companies and either back to ad agencies or finding themselves at one for the first time.
Abdul Ovaice is one such marketer. Ovaice started as a creative director at San Francisco-based ad agency Basic last June. It’s his first position on his resume not on the client-side at a tech startup. His past positions include creative director at Uber, associate creative director at Square and art director at Apple. For him, the largest draw of joining an ad agency is being part of a larger team.
“You’re a lone wolf,” he said, describing his work life working in-house at his past jobs. “One of the draws of agency life is the sense of community. You don’t get that in-house.”