If Don Draper were working in today's ad business, there's a good chance his business card wouldn't read Sterling Cooper but instead Google, Apple or Facebook. Mr. Draper may have found enlightenment on a mountaintop, but today's hot creatives are increasingly finding their Zen in the tech world. Seeking a respite from the realities of today's agency life such as fighting procurement, dealing with difficult clients and continually proving your worth with creative jump balls, more chief creatives are looking from their corner cubicles toward Silicon Valley.
For many who do make the leap, the appeal lies in the opportunity to do work that requires a different level of thinking or that can even change the world. The migration of young talent to tech companies has been going on for years, but the loss of established bold-name creative leaders to the Apples and the Googles is a newer and troubling trend for agencies.
While there are no hard-and-fast numbers of how many top-level creatives are leaving agencies, the anecdotal evidence is there. "Every single day, we speak to chief creative officers who want to do something different," said Jay Haines, founder of Grace Blue, an executive search firm that specializes in communications, advertising and media.