OPINION: Adland will lose out if it fails to attract graduates

The link between John Ward, the former Bates UK vice-chairman, setting himself up as a ’have brief, will travel’ planning consultant and the industry’s collective failure to attract the brightest recruits in sufficient numbers may not be readily obvious.

The link between John Ward, the former Bates UK vice-chairman,

setting himself up as a ’have brief, will travel’ planning consultant

and the industry’s collective failure to attract the brightest recruits

in sufficient numbers may not be readily obvious.



None-the-less, it is very real. The climate which enables highly

experienced planners like Ward to make a good living by going it alone

has been created by the damaging block on recruitment by the industry

during the recession-ravaged early 90s.



Today, planning talent is at such a premium that many shops will hire

good people as soon as they become available, irrespective of whether

they have a job for them.



The shortages are the price the industry must pay for its declining

share of the quality brain market. Where advertising was once the magnet

for graduates wanting to stretch their intellects and have fun, other

industries now look equally sexy.



And it’s not only the dotcoms. Management consultancies and even

financial services now vie for the people who might once have opted for

advertising.



Nor, with their margins under increasing pressure, can agencies any

longer match the graduate pay scales offered elsewhere.



The answers to the problem will, inevitably, sound like platitudes.



Arcane systems within agencies have to be overhauled to free enough

money to attract the brightest and the best. And if the industry does

not heed the lessons of its history of failure to sustain its supply of

fresh blood in tough times, it is doomed to repeat them.



Meanwhile, agencies are having to muddle through as best they can,

spreading their planning talent thinly across accounts and putting an

inevitable strain on client relationships. The agency chairman who

admits that his ideal system of allocating three brands per planner has

long been abandoned is certainly not alone.



For Ward, and those like him, there’s serious money to be made. From the

time when freelance planners were little more than qualitative

researchers, they now find themselves replacing hard-pressed staff

planners at the heart of new-business pitches.



Good for them. Bad for the advertising industry.



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