London's reputation as a centre of advertising excellence has
entered many of its agencies on the wishlists of job-hunting, ambitious
creatives from all over the world. And their numerous CVs appear to be
attracting the interest of top creative directors, who are giving
coveted places in their departments to people from a multitude of
Mother, which is arguably the most creatively driven agency in the
country, has several foreign teams including Cecilla Dufils and Markus
Bjorman, Carlos Bayala and Gabby Scardaccione, and Lotta Marlind and
Malin Carlsson. With almost half of its creative staff coming from
abroad, Mother has become known as the 'Earl's Court of advertising' -
the first stop for foreigners when they get to London.
Peter Souter, the creative director of Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, thinks
foreign creatives make up for a lack of diversity within British
advertising: 'The problem with British creative offices is often they
are far too homogeneous: there are no gays, blacks, women.'
Charles Inge, the creative director of Lowe Lintas, adds: 'Foreign
creatives give a fresh look. They're not clones from British advertising
college. They bring something new to the department.'
He adds: 'Why shouldn't we take from the best of the world instead of
just the best of British. It's arrogant to presume we produce all the
It is this sentiment that has led to the large international contingent
at Mother. Mother founder Robert Saville explains: 'Mother as a brand
has a strong creative reputation around the world. This can bring you
the cream of the crop.' He says the only foreign creatives he ever has
to seek are American, otherwise they come to him.
Most creative directors agree that including foreigners in their
department widens its perspective. Inge talks about how much good work
is coming from the Swedes at the moment: Paul Malmstrom and Linus
Karlsson, who are responsible for Fallon's Yukka Brothers work for MTV
he calls 'the hottest team in the world'; and then there's Traktor, the
Swedish directors being chased by every self-respecting creative
Saville thinks the broader perspective is essential: 'If you have a
department it's about having different people with different points of
view and different cultural reference points. We work collaboratively
and that works better when you've got different skills and
Most big creative departments in London include at least one foreigner.
Often the foreigner is paired with a Brit. This is the case at Saatchi &
Saatchi, where the creative director, Dave Droga, himself an Australian,
is very keen to hire foreign creatives.
He says: 'I'd like more. They give a different perspective. I was spoilt
when I worked in Singapore. My department was like the United Nations
Souter prefers to mix his foreign creatives with local talent and
recently split an Australian team. More than the other creative
directors, Souter admits that there are potential pitfalls with using
foreign creatives: 'Truthfully, you draw from your own experience. You
have to draw from a culture reference - that's difficult if you are not
from the country you are making ads for.'
He also thinks that these days creatives have to do much more than
create great ideas, they have to be able to sell the ideas to clients.
Souter says foreign creatives have to be able to speak very good English
in order to do this.
Andrew Cracknell, the creative director of Bates, has just hired an
Indian team, Vineet Raheja and Sweta Pathak. He says that the rest of
the creative department, including himself, is there to prevent any
cultural anomolies from arising.
He also believes that in order to move creativity on, sometimes you need
ideas that don't quite fit with the status quo: 'I would quite like a
take from outside of our culture - that's the only way to get
There's also a strong argument that foreign creatives develop the kind
of simple ideas that are the life blood of good advertising. They have
to develop straight-forward, more universal ideas because of their lack
of local cultural understanding and language. Scardaccione says: 'In
London our idea has to be simpler because we haven't got the language.'
Her sentiments are echoed by Bartle Bogle Hegarty's Fred Raillard and
All creative directors seem to agree that apart from adding fresh ideas
to any department, foreign creatives give their agencies an
international perspective that has become essential with the
globalisation of advertising accounts and resultant growth of
Cracknell cites this as his primary reason for seeking talent from other
countries: 'They give you a better understanding of international
markets. UK creatives are good at UK ads. To pretend you could spread it
elsewhere is nonsense.'
Hiring creatives from outside the European Union is no easy task. The
agency has to prove that nobody in the UK could do the job and in some
cases has to demonstrate this by advertising the job to the general
public. Agencies get around the legislation by advertising the role in
newspapers not known for offering creative jobs, or by giving overly
specific job specs - 'We need an art director with in-depth knowledge of
the Brazilian toothpaste market'.
With the industry becoming so global, the amount of creative directors
hiring foreigners is likely to grow. At the moment, they are relatively
thin on the ground in London, with premier creative agencies such as
HHCL & Partners and Leagas Delaney not employing any in their creative
As long as London's reputation for great advertising is sustained there
will be no shortage of applicants from overseas. All the foreigners
agree that in London creatives enjoy more time to develop their ideas as
well as much bigger budgets to see them come to fruition. The most
ambitious creatives want to have a spell in London on their CV. Some,
such as Malmstrom and Karlsson, will tour the globe jumping from one top
agency to another.
The inclusion of foreign creatives in UK creative departments benefits
everyone involved: the departments get fresh perspectives from the most
talented creatives in the world, and the foreigners broaden their
experience and better their CVs.
RAJ & BJORN
Bjorn Stahl, 38, (right) has been with Lowe Brindfors in Stockholm for
five years. He recently won a Eurobest gold for his campaign for Cello,
which also picked up a bronze in Cannes. Before Lowe he was with Leo
He has been commuting to Lowe in London from Stockholm since the end of
last year. This year, Lowe's creative director, Charles Inge, teamed him
with Bombay-bred Madhav Kamble, 25.
The pair has been working on Weetabix, Vauxhall and Rowntree. Kamble
says: 'I joined Lowe Lintas Bombay four years ago. I was a gold medalist
at the JJ School of Arts, the best college in India. I've always seen
work from London. It is a dream to work with Adrian (Holmes) and Charles
(Inge). There's a huge difference between working in London and
There you have smaller clients and have to work very fast. Here it is
very healthy, you have more time.
I am having the best time of my life.' Stahl says: 'Lowe in London is
one of the best agencies in the world. This is a great opportunity. I
can grow as a creative person and become better at my job. In Stockholm
you are responsible for your own client, here there are several teams
involved on the same brief with the creative director system. It's a
good opportunity to work in a competitive way. The environment in
Stockholm is more relaxed - there's no hierarchy. It's a flat
I am from another culture, so hopefully I can bring another perspective
to this office. In Sweden the budgets are a lot smaller so you have to
think in a simple way. I am good at not complicating things, and seeing
things in a very minimalistic way. It is interesting to team me with
Raj, to mix Indian with Swedish in the UK. It could go either way.'
FRED & FARID
The French Fred Raillard (left) and Farid Mokart have just accepted a
job at Bartle Bogle Hegarty, which they take up next month. They began
working together at Euro RSCG Betc six years ago. They moved to BDDP
(TBWA) for a year before joining CLM/BBDO in 1999. They operate as a
single entity: they live in the same building, drive the same cars and
eat the same food: they want to have the same frame of mind as each
The pair's avant garde approach has led to some memorable work: they
created the Pepsi ad starring Robbie Williams, which won a Cannes silver
Lion, after which he asked them to create the video for Rock DJ. The
film, which showed Robbie peeling off his skin, recently won Best Video
at the Brits. Other recent work included a campaign for Brandt, which
showed a man ripping the door off his non-Brandt fridge. Their work for
aucland.com, featuring people in a burning building bargaining with
firemen to secure their safe escape, also won a silver in Cannes.
They say: 'We like BBH's black sheep logo as it represents that you
don't go the way other people go. That you go in a direction where other
people don't dare to go. London is the advertising capital of Europe. In
new business London is key on the European scene. The capital of the
world is the US. The feeling we have is that people enjoy advertising
more here than in France. Maybe it's more cultural here. There are no
problems with our language because ideas have to be universal. The
clients' work has to travel, so language must be simple.'
CARLOS & GABI
This Argentinian husband and wife team came to London almost three years
ago. Carlos Bayala to do a masters in fine arts and media at Slade and
Gabriela Scardaccione to complete photography and drawing courses at St
Martins. Both were well-known in Buenos Aires. Bayala, 31, is a former
creative director at Young & Rubicam and DMB&B in Argentina. One of his
most famous campaigns was for Tulipan, and starred an elephant and an
ant in a bed. It picked up five Cannes Lions, two gold Clios and a gold
in the One Show. Scardaccione, 33, worked for six years in advertising
in Buenos Aires before moving to the UK. She began at Verdino before
moving to TBWA/Buenos Aires. After a spell with Bozell, she moved to the
city's premier creative agency Agulla & Baccetti. At Mother the pair are
working on the launch of Coca-Cola's Alive and were behind the Chris
Christmas Rodriguez film. Bayala does not think his lack of familiarity
with British culture is a problem.
'In a very Mother way the first thing they did with us was give us
typical English briefs. We are giving English advertising people a wider
point of view about human beings: a way of saying we all go to the
toilet, we all drink. There are lots of universal things that are
interesting. We came to London for lots of things and advertising. There
is a fantastic approach here, with lots happening in film and the arts.
Mother is definitely the best agency. We went straight there.'
Scardaccione talks about the differences between London and Buenos
Aires: 'There's less time there. Everything is more planned. In
production you know exactly what you are doing. There are better
directors and photographers.'