Forty-ish In Advertising:
Bullshit Myths vs. Cold Hard Realities
ROB ROONEY / WNW Member #55
So, you’ve just turned forty. Or you’re forty-ish. Or forty-adjacent, maybe. However you phrase it, congratulations are in order! The actuarial tables say you’re in the prime of your life! But, alas! You’re in advertising, and the actuarial tables for your advertising career say that you should’ve died 5 years ago. But you’re a survivor and if anyone with salt and pepper hair can keep going in this business, it’s you. So, if you’re newly 40 or just curious about that one person in your agency who doesn’t know who Post Malone is, here’s a handy guide to some of the Bullshit Myths and Cold, Hard Realities of being 40ish in advertising.
BULLSHIT MYTH: You don’t understand SnapChat. Fuck you. It’s SnapChat, not quantum mechanics. If Kendall Jenner can understand SnapChat, anyone can understand SnapChat.
COLD, HARD REALITY: You’re probably good with clients. Because you probably have kids! Kids are demanding little monsters who shit their pants over nothing and try your patience. And yet, somehow, you make sure everyone gets what they need and goes to bed happy. Gee, where could skills like that come in handy?
BULLSHIT MYTH: You’re probably on some sort of statin or bursitis medicine. Sorry, no. Percocet and weed maybe, but the LDL numbers are fine.
COLD, HARD REALITY: You’ve worked with/for at least five of the DietMadisonAve jerks. Good riddance, fellas.
BULLSHIT MYTH: No tattoos. False. But not on the neck or face-- that’s no-go territory. Unless you go by ‘Lil’ something.
COLD, HARD REALITY: You have made a Barney Miller reference and have gotten blank stares back. Yeah, save your Abe Vigoda jokes.
BULLSHIT MYTH: You’re on a shortlist for a future ‘50 over 50’ list. Silly Rabbit, those don’t exist!
COLD, HARD REALITY: You’ve worked with/for at least five of the Where Are The Boss Ladies? boss ladies. If you’re lucky, you’ve worked with more than five.
BULLSHIT MYTH: You had an AOL email address. No. It was earthlink.net, smartass.
COLD, HARD REALITY: You don’t join in on the typical agency activities. Softball team? Fuck that noise. Foosball in lobby? Fuck that too. But a Vanguard 401k seminar on 19? Hells yeah.
BULLSHIT MYTH: You don’t like to work late. See this phone? See this laptop? I am working late. I’m such a digital nomad, I’m practically a walking Black Mirror episode. Welcome to 2018.
COLD, HARD REALITY: Your Working Not Working Member number is super low.
BULLSHIT MYTH: You’re super-expensive. Bullshit. Some of us drive base-model Chrysler 200s.
COLD, HARD REALITY: You’re shocked when someone asks you to be a mentor. Admittedly, it’s hard not to have the: “I’m not your Roger fucking Sterling!” reaction. Then you remember Roger Sterling was fucking hilarious and you discover that mentoring just feels good.
BULLSHIT MYTH: You’re nostalgic for the days of advertising past. Creativity is all about pushing yourself into something new and different. What’s ahead is the thing that excites people in advertising, not nostalgia. Unless you’re talking about having an office with a door. Then, yeah. Big time.
COLD, HARD REALITY: Your career is a Venn diagram of awards, reliability and experience. Because you know what you’re doing.
CD/CW Rob Rooney is WNW Member #55. He is 39 years old (Give or take. Shut up.) and drives a base model Chrysler 200.
Illustration by WNW Member Vinnie Neuberg