LONDON: Nowhere in the cosmos is the intangible asset of youth prized more highly than in the advertising industry. Indeed, according to some adland cynics, it's all downhill from the age of 25.

Disturbed by this attitude, which is endemic far beyond the advertising and media environments, the savants of the European Commission have recently enacted legislation that outlaws ageism in the workplace. It came into force on 1 October.

The new law's impact will be most acutely felt in the hothouse climes of ad agencies where, according to the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising's 2005 Agency Census: "The average age is 33.4 with 48.1% of the workforce being under the age of 30, 33.4% aged between 31-40, 13.6% over 40 and 5% over 50.

"In media agencies the bias towards younger employees is more pronounced with 64.1% aged 30 or under."

It is unlikely UK agencies will greatly differ in this respect from their EU counterparts. So there is clearly much rethinking to be done if the European agency business is to comply with the new regulations.

Concedes IPA director general Hamish Pringle: "Adland is way out of line in terms of age. For a range of reasons - burn-out, work/life balance, pressure on agency payrolls - agencies shed the over-forties relentlessly. This results in a massive loss of valuable experience and is a real cost to clients."

Accordingly, the IPA has published guidance for its members in a report titled Age in Advertising It provides an overview of the current industry status on ageism by asking the questions: How young is Adland? Where did all the grown-ups go? Is ageism an issue? And what does the new legislation mean to the industry?

To download the full report click here.

Data sourced from Institute of Practitioners in Advertising; additional content by WARC staff