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JWT25 is stupidly ageist.

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JWT25, the deliberately youthful and deludedly agile content production start-up from JWT Singapore, is stupidly ageist in my relatively senile opinion.

Here is the agency’s pitch according to The Drum.

JWT has launched a new service called JWT25 which uses young content creators to focus on short content made quickly. The average age of the teams will be 25 and the content will be made in under 25 days, which led to the name of the division.

In how many ways is this idea misguided?

  • It has a perverse, in fact reverse, perception of how content agility relates to age. At 50 I am exactly twice the average age of this new venture’s employees. And admittedly I might not be as physically supple as the average 25 year old. In a toe touching competition JWT25 would beat me hands down. Literally. But I’d bet my house that when it comes to content creation I am much more intellectually agile. I have been doing this idea-based content thing (i.e. advertising) for 28 years compared to the 3 or 4 years of these JWT greenhorns. I understand brands better, I deal with clients better, I arrive at solutions quicker and I recognise and mercy-kill crap ideas quicker. This is not arrogance. It is a statement of the obvious.

 

  • “Short content made quickly.” What about good content? What about content that actually serves a valuable commercial purpose? What about content that captures the imagination of its intended audience in such a way as to stimulate the desirable behaviours? And why the assumption that quick equals good? Quick is usually the enemy of good. At best quick is a necessary compromise if topicality is a tactical imperative. It is a compromise nonetheless. Most, in fact that vast majority, of content produced for marketing purposes is crap. Content marketing is to the internet what cosmetic micro beads are to the world’s oceans. An agile process is merely destined to produce more crap at higher speed.

 

  • Maybe, when they say agile, they mean lean. There is a market for more efficient content production that cuts out the fat and the baggage that makes conventional commercials production so expensive. Good content made more cost-efficiently is a compelling proposition. Reducing cost is a better idea than increasing speed. But even this idea would be made worse by a gimmicky age restriction on its staff.

 

  • Is 25 days actually “quick” anyway? This is a rhetorical question.

 

  • In the context of making quick (and cheap?) content am I wrong to feel disquiet at the phrase “uses young content creators”? Admittedly these are the Drum’s words* rather than JWT’s, but I’m uneasy at the hint of exploitation.

Good luck boys and girls.

(In the spirit of agility I bashed this out in 25 minutes. Not bad for an old timer.)

 

*At the time of writing I can find no direct link to a JWT25 website.

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