Andrew McGuinness: It's high time that adland got over its inferiority complex

By Andrew McGuinness, campaignlive.co.uk, Thursday, 13 October 2011 08:00AM

For a business that's often accused of being overly self-confident, even arrogant, we can be a self-effacing lot.

Andrew McGuinness is the founder of Beattie McGuinness Bungay

Andrew McGuinness is the founder of Beattie McGuinness Bungay

How many times have you heard or even said the equivalent to "one day I'll get a proper job"? On some deep level, we seem to question the worth of what we do. It's time we recognised and celebrated the enormous contribution our industry makes both to the cultural vibrancy of our nation and to its economic health.

Sitting among colleagues from other creative industries, one of the striking things is how interdependent these seemingly disparate professions are. From writers to game developers, special-effects gurus to architects, the creative industries form a complex ecosystem, their survival linked by intricate interdependencies. And, arguably, none of the creative industries plays a more central role than advertising - a sector that has spawned talent that contributes to our nation's cultural wellbeing, ranging from Salman Rushdie to (the wonderful) Lord Puttnam.

Economically, too, the creative industries are a powerful force. We're second only to financial services in terms of contribution to UK PLC. And in a period in which the nation is looking for growth, it's pretty clear which of these sectors is more likely to deliver it.

So what are the challenges we must meet for our industry to fulfil its potential as an engine of future growth?

First, we must respond to the creative threat posed by the emerging nations. We have a strong creative heritage, but a history of great creativity will not be enough as ideas compete head-to-head on the world stage. When I spend time in our office in India, I see this first-hand: the volume, speed and sheer creativity of the ideas the team generates is humbling. You need look no further than Cannes to see this being played out on a world stage.

Linked to this, to recapture our creative supremacy, we need to broaden the talent pool we attract to our industry. Increasingly, we're trapped in a cycle whereby you can only get a job if you have had work experience and you can only get work experience if you live in the South-East of England or have a rich mummy and daddy who can pay for your digs. To regain our creative crown, we'll need all the talent we can get, from as diverse backgrounds as possible. It's to break this cycle that, last week, the Creative Industries Network launched the Fairness Pledge, an initiative to ensure all placements are paid a living wage.

And, finally, we need to recapture our sense of self-worth. Our industry uniquely contributes both to the economic and cultural health of our nation. It is a proper job and don't let anyone convince you otherwise.

Andrew McGuinness is a founding partner of Beattie McGuinness Bungay and the chairman of the Advertising Association and Creative Industries Network.

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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