Kiran Koshy, an award-winning director and former agency creative, recently wrote an op-ed for Ad Age about ageism in advertising, particularly in creative departments, attributing the problem largely to quarterly pressures from Wall Street and diminishing business margins.
“The easiest way to meet analysts’ expectations is to jettison older people—who are the main expense—not to mention the savings in health care costs for a younger workforce,” he wrote. “Capitalism isn’t going to change its DNA for the creative class.”
Now, Koshy is attacking the problem from a different angle, using his filmmaking chops. He just directed a short film that uses dark comedy to reveal the truth about where a creative career in advertising typically leads—and for those approaching 50, it’s usually nowhere good.
The piece, released during ad award season to highlight the hypocrisy of an industry that celebrates creativity while routinely discarding creators at their supposed sell-by date, is anchored by a remarkable performance from actor Devin Bonnée—who masochistically invites you into the industry, if you have an unhealthy addiction to pain.
The film was produced by Raucous Content on behalf of the Federation Against Ageism Towards Advertising Creatives (FAAAC), founded by an anonymous group of agency creatives, whose mission is to “speak the truth about ageism towards creative people in advertising, build awareness about the problem—especially among those considering it as a career—and work on solutions to remedy it.”
“As a former agency creative, I’m very aware of this issue, and it’s something I care about deeply, as most of my friends are still agency creatives,” Koshy said. “I really gravitated towards the idea the FAAAC team had about creating the most honest recruitment ad for the ad industry ever, to expose the guts of the problem.”
Koshy said the script, while aggressive and over-the-top in tone, didn’t need to rely on hyperbole, “as the truth was shocking enough and just needed to be told well. Every line is rooted in the truth, and it’s a dark piece because the truth is dark, and we should all be outraged. However, we did balance it with deliberate humor to make for a more engaging piece.”
The entire crew—including those working in post at Charlie Uniform Tango and Nice Shoes—donated time and resources to make the film, believing in the mission.
“I’ve seen a lot of my incredibly talented friends be discarded by the industry in their prime, and I’ve seen how it’s affected their mental well-being and family life,” Koshy said. “Almost everyone in their 40s questions if they made the right choice in getting into the business and the industry has quite consciously promoted the myth that younger people are more creative because it lets them lower salaries and squeeze margins.”
Learn more at the website, the aptly named FAAAC.me.