EDITORIAL: Foreign talent that adorns top shops

As London's agencies open their doors to foreign creatives,

parallels will be drawn with what happened to English football when it

succumbed to overseas imports.

Rewind to 1978, when Spurs led the game out of its xenophobia with an

audacious summer swoop for the two Argentine stars Osvaldo Ardiles and

Ricardo Villa.

Ah, warned the sceptics, they will never master the language or adapt to

the culture. They did. Ah, critics claimed, wait until winter and the

pitches get heavy. Then their limitations will be exposed. They


In advertising, as in football, determination, commitment and talent

will always win out. Just as players such as Italy's Gianfranco Zola,

Holland's Dennis Bergkamp and France's David Ginola have added a new

dimension to the domestic game, so creative departments can be enlivened

with fresh ideas and perspectives that come from bright people with

varied cultural backgrounds.

And they are. As the feature on page 28 shows, London agencies have

become a magnet for ambitious creatives from all over the world. Swedes,

South Americans, Australians and Indians are all part of an increasingly

rich racial mix within UK shops.

Much of what's happening is down to the fact that the world has become a

smaller place, providing wannabe creatives with the opportunity to hone

their skills in a number of advertising centres of excellence. It's a

trend to be welcomed, particularly in the UK where it will help halt the

seemingly irrevocable shift of the creative centre of gravity away from

London and towards the US.

Foreign creatives are not inhibited by the constraining influences of

British culture and may even provide the idea that will disrupt

conventional thinking and move the creative process on. Moreover, they

may enable their employers to better understand international


For foreign creatives, particularly those from developing markets, the

benefits are obvious. Less fast turnaround work for small advertisers,

greater opportunities to stretch their talents and, in some cases, the

opportunity to perfect their skill in communicating to clients.

But before UK advertising embraces the foreign invasion too

enthusiastically, it would do well to look at what has happened to

English football.

True, it has benefited hugely from the arrival of many world class


But it has also been sullied by an influx of foreign scuffers whose ball

skills are limited but happen to be cheap. Agencies must continue to

ensure that, when recruiting from abroad, only the best will do.