Is the Advertising Industry Running Out of Talent?
Our creative industries are rapidly changing. Agencies face fierce competition for creative talent from tech giants like Google, Facebook and Twitter; brands are increasingly using in-house creative teams to execute campaigns; the direct route into advertising is rapidly becoming outdated - severely limiting the creative pool that we have on offer.
So where is the UK’s next generation of creative talent going to come from? Who are the young creatives aspiring to work for in this amazing industry? Just how is this talent going to ‘make it’?
Some students are lucky enough to have an industry connection in the form of a friend or family member who can arrange an ‘in’ or placement, but for many students the most common route into a creative career is to study some form of art or design course before going on to one of the many creative advertising courses on offer, where they’ll be spending in the region of £5,000 to £10,000 a year on course fees alone.
Then what? Well, the fortunate are offered internships, earning not much more than the minimum wage, with the luckiest eventually going on to secure a job on a graduate salary. Again, it is the connected few that, with a leg up from their friends and families, are most likely to benefit from these opportunities.
Who can afford to survive this process? Not many. Those that can will probably be white, middle class and, the majority of them, male. It sounds like an issues confined to professional services like law or politics, but sadly it is a real problem in advertising - an industry built on ideas, expression and creativity.
We’re in danger of limiting creativity to a certain demographic; alienating talented individuals across the breadth of the country, so what can we do to not only attract creative talent, but ensure the potential of our best creatives can be fulfilled?
Start much earlier. The industry needs a presence in schools from an earlier age so that teenagers are aware of all the wonderful opportunities that this industry has to offer. Creativity is rarely a priority in schools, so most students only discover us when they’re in further education - and by then it can be too late.
Don’t pigeon hole ‘creative’. We must encourage great creative thinking from an earlier age and, importantly, consider a wider range of skillsets. Advertising courses are dominated by students that have studied art and design courses, but you don’t need to draw to be a creative – what about all those great writers out there? There’s a lack of proper training on offer for young copywriters, so where is the next generation of truly great advertising writers going to come from?
Encourage diversity. The diversity of the British population should be reflected in the diversity of our creative talent. We need to support and encourage students from a much wider audience, and make our industry a viable option for young talent, regardless of background, postcode or family connections. Let’s break down barriers and provide strong role models. Let’s open our doors to young creative minds and provide them with valuable networking opportunities. Let’s offer support and encouragement to the multitude of communities and groups that exist across the country. Diversity is a complex issue spanning age, gender, race, religion and beyond and, while we may not be able to achieve a truly diverse industry immediately, it’s an area that we should be addressing each and every day.
Financial support. The support we need to offer is more than just educational. CreatiInfvity is being priced out of opportunity. Working in London is expensive and the cost of living is only going to increase. Students from less privileged backgrounds simply can’t afford to take up placement offers because the wage cannot support them. Bursaries and funding can provide creative minds with a platform from which to grow and it’s up to us to give them the opportunity.
Having spoken to so many industry leaders, it’s clear that there’s a real desire to offer support to the young creative talents making their first steps in the world of advertising. Nurturing Britain’s new creatives should be at the heart of what we do – but are we really doing enough to make that vision a reality?
Creativity is at a premium; agencies need the most talented minds to create campaigns that break through the cluttered, noisy advertising landscape. We need to identify, nurture and develop home-grown talent and allow their potential to be fulfilled. Now more than ever, those at the top need to be helping those at the bottom.