I’m “of a certain age.” One really doesn’t understand that phrase until their clock strikes old. I, like so many of my contemporaries (and Thank God most are still around) keep using the phrase, “I don’t feel old,” but the birth certificate and the mirror don’t lie. No, I don’t feel old, but lately, I have been feeling outdated. I didn’t see that coming.
If you followed my adventures when I wrote monthly here, you know that my professional Creative path has had its ups and downs. For the past few years, I thought that I had gotten off the roller coaster after taking the Creative Director position at RPM Media, a full-service ad agency in Wake Forest, NC.
It has been a great position for me, as I’ve not only continued writing and producing audio but have been part of developing Branding and Marketing for our clients. In addition, I’ve had the chance to gain video editing and motion graphics skills - a new Creative challenge that I’ve really enjoyed. We have a solid staff, good people, family in many ways.
Our bread and butter account has always been Planet Fitness. We have been one of a handful of agencies across the country that have served the needs of local franchise groups.
There is always a danger in relying on one account for the majority of one’s revenue. We have become the poster child for that cautionary tale. A few months ago, Planet Fitness corporate suddenly decided to move all of their agency work to one national agency. In two months, people at 14 agencies across the country who had worked hard over the years to make Planet Fitness the franchise success it is, no longer had the business. RPM Media was among the casualties.
The transition was a sad blur. 2 months is a short fuse for any agency shift, and Planet Fitness is a big company with a lot of different franchise owners, each with different advertising wants and needs. We worked hard to fulfill the advertising commitments we still had for them while watching the future of our little agency grow dimmer. It’s business, nothing personal, but as our staff began to dwindle and the last Planet Fitness ads were trafficked, it felt otherwise.
As I write this, our doors are still open. There are 3 of us left - the owner, our bookkeeper, and me. We have a small handful of accounts that we do odds and ends for, but…
Here’s something. Wanna REALLY feel old? Spend 4 decades in the Creative World and then pull up your resume. Make no mistake, I’m proud of what I see. But I see something else in the eyes of the people I’ve interviewed with on Zoom. “This guy could be my father... Maybe even my Grandfather!” Most haven’t bothered to send a “Dear Trent” letter, even after a second interview.
I’m not screaming ageism (not much, anyway). I do, however, feel like I should be wearing a t-shirt that says, “Too Young to Retire - Too Old to Hire.” Perhaps I should sell them. Who says I don’t have a revenue stream?
When I gave up writing “... And Make it Real Creative!” every month, I never wrote the final goodbye column. You know the one, where I thank Jerry and everyone at RAP, all the people who have read the column over the years, and especially my ever-supportive wife/proofreader (see what I did there?). A real sappy swan song piece, full of wisdom & encouragement. Nope, it didn’t happen. I didn’t know exactly why at the time, but I think I do now. Endings are hard for me, and the older I get the harder they are.
The end of my current job, as slow as that ending continues to be, is tough. Tougher still, it seems, is finding a new beginning at this stage of my life.
The roller coaster ride isn’t over, it turns out. The ups and downs have just gotten steeper with age.