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Derek Walker: why am I angry? Why aren't you?


By Derek Walker, Founder

October 17, 2018 | 6 min read

Derek Walker is sick and tired of being sick and tired about this industry. And if you’re not angry, you’re just not giving a damn.

derek walker

I’m angry that I have to be angry. Angry that so many in the advertising industry don’t give a flying copulation.

I’m angry that agency leadership shifted from a creative driven focus to a numbers obsessed model and we barely voiced a freaking whimper.

These shifts lead to less training, to a purge of more experienced talent, larger workloads with less employees, lower salaries and higher turnover. And most of us just continued on like nothing had happened.

I’m angry that clients imposed unrealistic deadlines for heavier workloads at drastically reduced compensation that takes longer to receive. Our response was ‘Thank you, may we have another?’

Seriously, what? We didn’t even ask for a reach around, or at least for some lube?!! Come on!

The client isn’t always right. And we should have at least attempted to educate them about what giving in to these demands means, for them but also for us. At the most, we should have grown ‘a set’ and told them ‘no’.

Yes, we should have said ‘no’ and meant it. Instead, we tried to do more at a faster pace with fewer employees for less money and, imagine this, the work suffered and clients blamed us!!

I’m angry that consultants started taking business from agencies doing some of the things that agencies used to provide before we abandoned everything ‘traditional’ agencies used to do. Our response? Silence. Stone cold silence.

Oh, you have to be kidding me?! If there was a time for those of us in advertising to find our voice it should be when someone is taking business from us, but all we had was the sound of crickets chirping in the night.

Here is an opportunity to clearly define what it is that we in advertising actually bring to the table and we not only held our tongue, many of us openly criticized the agency structure and practices. Some of us went over to the other side!!

Oh dear, lord! What kind of drug-addled response is that? Who thinks, ‘Here is a great way for me to solicit business by attacking the freaking business I am in’? Some of us need to pee in a blasted cup because you’re on some serious drugs!

I’m angry about diversity. It is the year 2017 and I still have to talk about the lack of diversity at advertising agencies.

Our response? Righteous indignation or total avoidance. Sweet mother of all things holy, where do I start?

Let me put some gospel music on in the background as I talk about this because I’m going to need some religion to not really tell some of you about your trifling selves.

‘Diversity of thought’ and ‘ageism’? Male bovine excrement. You really want to champion looking for people with diverse thinking but who tend to all look alike, come from the same culture, have similar experiences in this society but profess to have different thoughts? Really?

Don’t speak. Think about how copulated up that is. You really think that you can have more diverse thought with a team of white men than having people of color and women included? What color is the sky in your world?

‘Ageism’? A group of old white people who enjoyed long careers in advertising are upset that a younger generation has pushed them out the exact same way these old farts pushed out the previous generation? Oh cry me a river of tears.

I’m a freaking black man in advertising. I aged out before I even got started. I know plenty of minorities who never got the chance to grow old in advertising. Sit down.

‘What about Asians? Why does diversity talk about everyone but them? Doesn’t their success disprove the need for diversity?’

Jesus take the wheel. And jerk it. Hard.

Can I let you in on a secret? All minorities don’t have the same experience. There’s a hierarchy to diversity. Some minorities are preferred over others. You cannot use the acceptance of one group to downplay the exclusion of another. Stop it.

‘We need to educate people about jobs in advertising’ and ‘we can’t find more senior talent of color’. You cannot find what you are not looking for or willing to hire.

It is amazing that minority focused shops and even clients can find, hire and promote qualified people of color while advertising agencies keep shoveling this excrement of an excuse.

Hell, if agencies didn’t do anything more than start recruiting more senior talent from the minority shops that would be a giant step forward for the diversity issue. However, the narrative that there are so few qualified senior advertising professionals of color plays into a narrative that makes it is easier to talk a lot while actually doing little. Breathe, Derek, breathe.

Actually, I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired over an industry that doesn’t seem interested in pulling itself out of this nosedive. And if the current state of advertising doesn’t make you angry, you ain’t paying attention or don’t give a damn.

Derek Walker is the founder of Brown and Browner Advertising in Columbia, South Carolina.

This piece was first published in The Drum's Anger issue in November 2017.


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