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Ad man calls heavy workload a mixed blessing

SOME people suffer in the global economic downturn because they have less work or no work. Some benefit because their business is booming, such as the advertising business.

Some have more business than they can handle, like Felix Wang, and he has dark bags under his eyes to prove it. Work is a mixed blessing.

His girlfriend tries to wait up for him at night, but usually falls asleep before he gets home before dawn. Not surprisingly, they seldom get quality time together.

Wang, however, is considered a superman to all his friends. The creative director for a small advertising company works from 10am to at least 3am every day and most of the time, he gets home around 5am. He's lucky to get an occasional weekend off, maybe once every two or three months.

The 28-year-old Shanghai native has been working in advertising for seven years and is well aware of the crazed schedules in the creative industry. In charge of four teams totaling designers, Wang is used to long hours.

But he is still not used to this schedule that started around November when the global economic crisis really affected business. Before that he used to work from 10am to 11pm and got at least two weekends off a month.

"Advertising and event planning are different from other industries in the financial crisis," says Wang.

"We feel the impact later, but it's heavier because our clients are affected and cut back on advertising - or demand more for less, or for the same amount."

For the past month, he has had less than five hours' sleep a night and no days off. His local advertising company is small, with only 80 staff doing everything, from customer relations to actually designing non-broadcast advertising. Everyone works late, often until 10pm.

"Many friends complain about not having anything to do due to the financial crisis. They get a pay cut and work less. For me, I get the same amount of money and have to work much more," says Wang.

"Our customers come to us with the same amount of money, but they bring more requests."

Wang cites the recent case of a personal care products company, a long-time client that usually spends around 300,000 yuan (US$43,920) on advertising a year. For that amount, they want one ad demo and three major events; they usually reimburse for supplementals, like the cost of flowers, meals, etc.

"They still came to us with 300,000 yuan at the end of last year, but they want two demos and five events and asked us to cut costs on supplements," says Wang.

"So, we are busier with the same amount of revenue. We have to spend much more time thinking about lowering the cost of everything while maintaining the quality the client demands," says Wang.

Wang feels bad for his girlfriend, who tries to wait up for him. "But she always falls asleep before I come home because it's so late."

For the past two months, they only spent one whole day together and hardly have time to chat for 10 minutes a day.

"It's her birthday this week," says Wang, "and I can't even find time to prepare a gift."


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