Is Advertising a Respected Profession?


rodney dangerfield advertising a respected profession

A lack of respect is bad for ad agency new business. You might not be able to change the perception of our industry but you can control the perception of your agency.

Over the last decade, the advertising industry has become one of the least liked by Americans. In a recent Gallup Poll Advertising and Public Relations ranked 10th on a list of the least respected industries in the nation.

Author Tim Williams is an author and consultant, closely associated with the advertising industry. In a recent article, that is generating some buzz, he raises the question: “Is Advertising a Profession?

Tim writes, “By referring to advertising people as “professionals” and advertising agencies as “professional knowledge firms,” I’m stating my belief that advertising and marketing is – or at least should be – a “profession” in the same league with law, accounting, or architectural firms.”

He goes on to state that the true definition of a profession presents a much more rigorous standard than just being good at your job. Standards such as:

  1. Professionals are accredited
  2. Professions require continuing education
  3. Professions are based on the study and application of science
  4. Professions adhere to “higher aims” than self-interest or economic benefit

Given the above standards, is advertising a profession?

Tim’s opinion is that the advertising industry isn’t there yet but it should be.

To be respected as a profession, the advertising and marketing business must take a much more evidence-based approach.” 

” … after over a hundred years’ experience with modern marketing, advertising agencies should be a lot more conversant and knowledgeable about what works, what doesn’t work, and why. we should be a lot less focused on deliverables and a lot more focused on outcomes.”

Jason Falls, educator, speaker and author of the book “No Bullshit Social Media”, in the world of digital marketing and social media, was blunt in his response to Tim’s article that I posted on my Facebook page:

” Uh … Thousands have made a living for their whole lives doing nothing but. That guy’s full of it and just looking piss people off.”

Douglas Burdett, president of Artillery, a full service advertising agency in Norfolk, VA, had just the opposite reaction:

“Great post – have shared it w/my local AAF chapter!”

Do you agree or disagree?  

Click on the following link to read Tim’s complete article, “Is Advertising a Profession?” and share your opinion by taking this  twt Poll: Is advertising a profession?  or weigh in with your opinion in the comment section below.

photo credit: spike55151 via photo pin cc

About Michael Gass

Consultant | Trainer | Author | Speaker

Since 2007, he has been pioneering the use of social media, inbound and content marketing strategies specifically for agency new business.

He is the founder of Fuel Lines Business Development, LLC, a firm which provides business development training and consulting services to advertising, digital, media and PR agencies.


  1. Way to make a girl feel great about her Brand Establishment Certification, CBS.

  2. The Brand Establishment is a great group. I’ll be working to help them with their social media and speaking at their winter meeting in San Diego.

  3. I agree that the parameters in the description of a profession can be used generate some standards. But other than not having a degree in psychiatry like my father does, neither profession fits the standards described above. So the math or supposed scientific definition is irrelevant.

    So sure, people might have a wrong impression about the advertising profession, but the reality is that most people don’t even understand what it entails. Therefore who cares about their opinion or misguided perceptions of the profession (or lack thereof). Fine by me.. less people jumping into the industry is less competition. And from a client perspective…. think what they will – the world revolves around advertising. At least capitalism does.

    So what really matters, is that we forget the naysayers and continue to be better, more efficient and innovative with our trade (or profession..) we continue to provide world class customer service, and not be greedy nor money driven. If we continue to do that we will always be successful. The rest who cares… I have my coronas and friends.

  4. Thought provoking insights Jorge. Thanks for sharing your perspective.

  5. As I’ve always gone to great lengths to tell people – many of the people I’ve worked with the in communications business are among the best and brightest. They’re insightful and intuitive – always curious. You don’t find this often in many other industries. It starts with respecting ourselves and what we do. Respect is earned – many subscribe to this theory in our great business. How many people can concept an “idea.” That what our business is all about – ideas. Too many devalue ideas. I’ll stick with the people that I respect and value – smart passionate people in this great business!

  6. Thanks for taking the time to share your opinion Bill. The advertising industry is very different from almost any other industry that I can think of.

  7. You’re absolutely right in saying that “the advertising industry is very different from almost any other industry that I can think of”.

    That’s both the beauty and a central benefit of the industry. It combines expertise and passion coming from many walks of life, which together form a formidable idea generator.

    While formal endorsements are fine in a way, they can also be misleading. You can’t say that anyone with a certain degree would automatically make a great marketing manager, for example.

    We as advertising people are tools. Tools that make the client’s offering fly. If we’re bad tools, they won’t use us again. If we’re good tools, they will hire us repeatedly and tell their colleagues about us. Performance-based rating, if you will. And what could be more honest?

  8. I agree that each person is responsible for his/her image/reputation in any profession, and as a rule advertising copywriters, account execs, shoot – no one, in any profession, should be stereotyped as slimy. BUT I worry about “certifications,” because I believe that unless they are granted with a degree-providing institution (college, tech school) they run the risk of being worth about as much as the paper they’re printed on. In other words, buyer beware! Trust your gut! Human beings should rely on (and exercise) good judgement in business, regardless of any person/professional’s apparent credentials.

  9. Kimmo, Diane, Thank you both for sharing your insights.

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