Those unwilling to offer sexual favours to secure a first job in
advertising can now turn to D&AD for support. Belinda Archer reports on
the student annual, tip-sheet and workshops designed to help wannabe
There’s always bribery, or offering key people generous sexual
You could even try mailing ideas to David Abbott on a weekly basis, or
hanging out at the Ivy or Signor Zilli’s or on the pavement outside
Then there’s that old mate of your Dad’s who was an art director in the
Any one of these approaches could be useful, because getting a job in
advertising is no easy task. Each year, colourful tales bushfire through
student circles of how there are ’more people than ever’ applying in
1997 for ’fewer positions than in 1846’.
The latest estimates from the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising
suggest that only 250 jobs at 35 top agencies will be made available
this year through the structured graduate milkround programme.
Add to this such anecdotal evidence as the tale of a top ten agency
receiving 3,000 applicants for only four jobs this year, and you have a
measure of the sort of competition and demand there is for places.
For creatives, however, it is even harder. The IPA statistics are for
vacancies in account handling and planning alone - the only disciplines
that are formally recruiting at the moment - so tomorrow’s art directors
and copywriters face a near impossible task.
In order to help young creative blood secure employment, D&AD has
redoubled its educational schemes over the last year, investing more
than pounds 350,000 into its efforts under the stewardship of David
Kester, the D&AD chief executive, and Vicky Sargent, the consultant
director of education.
One major development is the launch this month of the Student Awards
Annual, a junior version of the famous D&AD Annual which features 180
pieces of work nominated for the D&AD Student Awards. The annual,
sporting a suitably innocent-looking chick as the symbol of D&AD youth,
aims to provide exposure of would-be creatives’ work. It will land on
the desks of the 1,500 creatives who are D&AD members and coveted
prospective employers, complementing the existing showcase of talent
offered by the awards themselves, which are now 20 years old.
In September, D&AD will also be running its second programme for course
leaders and tutors - an all-embracing week-long session of lectures and
workshops headed by 22 leading advertising figures that aims to update
course leaders on what the industry requires of young graduates. The
course covers new creative trends plus interactive multimedia
developments, as well as incorporating lectures addressing future
aspects of the industry and a series of visits to London’s top agencies
and production houses.
The intention is to train tutors to prepare students better for the
realities of life in advertising today.
Another major initiative to help secure that first step on the ladder is
the publication of a 12-page booklet, bulging with top tips and good
advice on how to get started. The publication is an update on a booklet
still in circulation called ’How to Get Your First Job in Advertising’,
which was produced by Dave Trott more than ten years ago. It contains
pointers from an array of industry talent, from Billy Mawhinney, Tom
Carty and Walter Campbell, to Tiger Savage and Adrian Holmes, plus Canna
Kendall, the headhunter whose company has sponsored the publication.
As well as handy tips, the booklet features scamps of work done by
leading creatives, such as Jay Pond-Jones and Robert Saville’s
’jeopardy’ film for John Smith’s Bitter and a Graham Fink BA ad, the
idea being to bring their work down to earth and show would-be creatives
how great ads start out as a sketch on a piece of paper.
Tim Mellors, the D&AD president elect, explains: ’Students were saying
they really appreciate the D&AD evenings that we run and get a lot out
of the feedback, but what they really want is practical advice, so we’ve
put together this kind of Janet and John guide.’
Kester adds: ’The original booklet is great and still available through
us, but the advertising industry is fast moving and it is important that
students get up-to-date information. This is far more comprehensive and
addresses more specific issues.’ The topics touched on include such
areas as how to put your portfolio together, when to go round agencies
and who to talk to.
The publication is designed mainly to work in tandem with D&AD’s
Advertising Workshops. It will be handed out free to the students on the
workshops, but given that the courses are usually massively
oversubscribed - more than 1,000 people applied for 60 places last year
- it will also be given to those who didn’t get on. Further copies will
be made available through other outlets, such as the network of
advertising courses around the country at the 35 D&AD member
Much new investment has also been placed over the past 12 months behind
the Advertising Workshops themselves. These six-week training courses
for aspiring creatives, which have been running since D&AD began more
than 30 years ago, have been upgraded. They now take place four times a
year, provide unsuccessful applicants with feedback and are advertised
in a bid to attract candidates from as wide a field as possible.
D&AD has also just introduced a development of its College Membership
Scheme - the College Twinning Scheme. This twins courses with
advertising agencies, which offer students eight weeks of placement time
and one week of placement time to a tutor.
You might think that this welter of educational programming could not
fail to prepare far too many individuals for a career in advertising -
an industry that, as we know, is hardly bursting with opportunity. But
Kester defends D&AD’s moves: ’Our interest with all these schemes is
purely the interest of the industry. We have to ensure that the cream of
young talent is well prepared, both mentally and in terms of Mac skills,
and that it bubbles to the surface and can be scooped up by the
industry.’ If that process involves breaking a few hearts along the way,
then so be it.