D&AD: Adland demands a business brain too

In the year since Campaign For Beginners made its debut, the advertising industry has perhaps become a more challenging career path for new entrants.

Although the past 12 months have seen fewer redundancies and some signs of economic recovery, getting into this slimmed-down business is harder than ever. And once you're in, the demands made on the industry's leaner workforce are arguably more onerous than at any other time.

Yet in many respects there's never been a better time to be working in advertising. Economic pressures have weighed heavy, but that's opened up fresh opportunities for hungry new talent.

As workforces have trimmed down, the rise up from the post-room or tea-making duties into tackling creative briefs or working on pitches has been accelerated.

At the same time, there is a new zeal for nurturing young talent through training throughout their advertising careers. Graduating with honours from a respectable industry course is now just the start of the formal learning process, as the IPA's new Foundation Certificate exemplifies.

All things considered, then, the advertising industry is fertile soil for anyone willing to work hard and ride out the tail end of the advertising recession. But the key skills tomorrow's advertising agencies will be looking for in their new recruits will be a feel for the real business issues their clients are facing and an ability to address those issues using a broad sweep of communications channels.

Integration and neutral thinking have already become cliches in the ad business, but there's no doubt that they are fundamental to the future health of the industry. As the advertising sector struggles with a recession-accelerated identity crisis, the search for a new breed of communications executive is hotting up. More than ever, anyone working in marketing communications must be business literate and as comfortable talking about a media strategy brief - or even a PR, direct marketing or sales promotion brief - as they are a creative brief. Graduates with a perspective that reaches beyond the narrow disciplines of art direction or media studies and into an appreciation of real business issues are likely to be most hotly fought over.

For those with a broad perspective attached to their specific skills, and whose approach is both flexible and wide-ranging, the opportunities can only get bigger and better.


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