Associate Director, Michael Page Hong Kong.
Life’s a pitch in the advertising world
I have been in Hong Kong for over a decade and am thinking of leaving. Apart from the usual gripes – pollution, high rents, political uncertainty – I feel my career is going backwards as my industry, advertising, becomes more dumbed down here. The problem is I feel I have become dumbed down at the same time. Would it pay for me to take a refresher course to fire up my expertise and enthusiasm again before I leave, or just jump back into the deep end when I go?
In an ideal advertising industry world, you pitch an idea to your clients and they buy into it. Then when it goes public, it creates the impact you and your client are anticipating. Obviously, this is a textbook scenario. These days, due to reasons such as economic uncertainty, cost controls and the political situation, you will see a lot of constraints when you are trying to be creative, and Hong Kong is obviously not a standalone case.
Advertising emphasises creativity and freedom, but at the end of the day, it is also a client-serving industry. Your clients determine whether your ideas get to be seen and as these people are businessmen, they evaluate the ROI before flashing the green light.
We do not have to discuss whether the advertising industry is dying in Hong Kong, but you should simply look at what is making you frustrated – is it the working environment here, the job nature, your firm’s expectation or a combination of everything?
Having spent over a decade in the same field, it is normal to feel bored, as every job becomes repetitive in the end. A refresher course might help expand your social circle and knowledge, but I doubt it will cure the root of your problem of losing enthusiasm.
Instead, you should look into what brought you here and to the industry in the first place and how is it different between now and then. We see things differently as we become more experienced and the grass will always seem greener on the other side when you are down. Therefore, try taking out your emotional factors and find out what keeps you going.
Hong Kong is one of the most intense cities when it comes to work, so talk to your boss and see what the options are here for you – some companies have internal or international job rotations and that might also help you.
Making a decision when you are stuck in a bottleneck is not wise, so take some time off – a weekend trip or even a home vacation – to give your mind a break, then decide what you want to do next when you are truly refreshed.