ADVERTISING'S FOREIGN LEGION: Just as Chelsea FC has taken on overseas players to boost its game, a growing number of creative departments are looking to hire foreign talent, Francesca Newland reports

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

cultural backgrounds.

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

best creatives.'

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

Farid Mokart.

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

advertising networks.

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.


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.'


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, 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.'


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.'