Creatives support call for placements code

Britain's leading creative directors have backed calls for the

reform of the placement system and a halt to the exploitation of junior


Eighty-five per cent of those polled agree that the long-established

practice has to change and are urging the IPA to draw up a code of


The poll among creative chiefs of the top 50 UK shops was carried out by

the IPA Creative Directors' Forum, which has been pressing for the

system to be overhauled.

The forum is calling for placement teams to be treated like any other

agency recruit by being put on the payroll, paid at least the minimum

national wage and given a three-month trial before either being

permanently hired or fired.

Now Chris O'Shea, the forum's chairman, will seek endorsement of the

plan from agency chiefs at this week's meeting of the IPA Council.

Nick Phillips, the IPA's director-general, said: "I welcome this move,

particularly because it comes from the creative directors themselves,

and I'm sure it will have the council's ringing endorsement. The

placement system has been too haphazard and we have to get it


The forum's initiative follows the recent installation of Bruce Haines

as the IPA president. He has pledged to put the promotion of creativity

at the top of his agenda during his two-year term of office.

Haines said: "We're a business like any other and we need to pay

properly for the services of the people working in it."

Critics of the system accuse agencies of taking advantage of an

oversupplied market by neither selecting their young teams properly nor

training them adequately while giving them false hope that they will

land jobs.

They also claim the system perpetuates male domination of agency

creative departments because most women are reluctant to undergo the

social hardships many placement teams have to endure.

In a letter to forum members, O'Shea says: "If we all act together we

can improve the lot of aspiring young creatives, but if we don't the

system will remain the exploitative mess it is now."

If the forum's plan is approved, the IPA would recommend that teams are

hired and paid at least the minimum national wage of pounds 7,020 a

year, rising to pounds 7,488 in October. Creatives still employed after

one year would be entitled to full employment rights, including

protection against unfair dismissal.

The changes would still allow third-year college students to gain agency

work experience for two weeks at a time during holidays, for which they

can be paid expenses.

This exception acknowledges the concern of some colleges that the ending

of the placement system would demotivate students and prevent them

gaining experience of agency life.