As London's agencies open their doors to foreign creatives,
parallels will be drawn with what happened to English football when it
succumbed to overseas imports.
Rewind to 1978, when Spurs led the game out of its xenophobia with an
audacious summer swoop for the two Argentine stars Osvaldo Ardiles and
Ah, warned the sceptics, they will never master the language or adapt to
the culture. They did. Ah, critics claimed, wait until winter and the
pitches get heavy. Then their limitations will be exposed. They
In advertising, as in football, determination, commitment and talent
will always win out. Just as players such as Italy's Gianfranco Zola,
Holland's Dennis Bergkamp and France's David Ginola have added a new
dimension to the domestic game, so creative departments can be enlivened
with fresh ideas and perspectives that come from bright people with
varied cultural backgrounds.
And they are. As the feature on page 28 shows, London agencies have
become a magnet for ambitious creatives from all over the world. Swedes,
South Americans, Australians and Indians are all part of an increasingly
rich racial mix within UK shops.
Much of what's happening is down to the fact that the world has become a
smaller place, providing wannabe creatives with the opportunity to hone
their skills in a number of advertising centres of excellence. It's a
trend to be welcomed, particularly in the UK where it will help halt the
seemingly irrevocable shift of the creative centre of gravity away from
London and towards the US.
Foreign creatives are not inhibited by the constraining influences of
British culture and may even provide the idea that will disrupt
conventional thinking and move the creative process on. Moreover, they
may enable their employers to better understand international
For foreign creatives, particularly those from developing markets, the
benefits are obvious. Less fast turnaround work for small advertisers,
greater opportunities to stretch their talents and, in some cases, the
opportunity to perfect their skill in communicating to clients.
But before UK advertising embraces the foreign invasion too
enthusiastically, it would do well to look at what has happened to
True, it has benefited hugely from the arrival of many world class
But it has also been sullied by an influx of foreign scuffers whose ball
skills are limited but happen to be cheap. Agencies must continue to
ensure that, when recruiting from abroad, only the best will do.