Havas opens its doors to Watford ad school

Students of the respected Watford creative ad course will relocate to Havas' King Cross office.

Cullingham: made ads asking for agency office space
Cullingham: made ads asking for agency office space

The Watford Course will temporarily relocate to Havas’ Kings Cross headquarters this month to take advantage of empty office space due to Covid-19.

The agency is planning to welcome the eight students and course leader Tony Cullingham on 16 November until the end of February. They will sit in the creative department.

The respected creative advertising course is normally based at West Herts College in Watford. Mr President has also got in touch with Cullingham and the group may head there in March.

Cullingham explained the move was partly driven by a desire to be safer from Covid-19. He said: “Many agencies are working from home and their offices are empty. We are working in a packed college where there is very little space. Working in an environment full of hugging teenagers is somewhat daunting to a small group of creatives and an old man with a dodgy knee.”

He said that having a London base in the professional environment of an agency’s offices would help the teaching of professional skills. “Young creatives are in a more focused mindset when they feel they are in the real world,” Cullingham told Campaign.

He added: “All the students live in London, so a move would save their pennies too. It also gives us a scintilla of hope knowing that an ad agency is thinking about us at this shite time.”

The move to Havas came about after Cullingham created a series of social media ads with his former student Dan Scott, now a creative at Who Wot Why.

The ads asked agencies with spare office space in London if they would be willing to house Cullingham and his students. 

After a few weeks of running the ads, Havas London’s RB global executive creative director and creative partner Elliot Harris saw the ads and got in touch. 

“He said he’d love to have us. I said ‘love to Havas’,” quipped Cullingham. 

Harris said their arrival would be mutually beneficial: “It’s hugely useful for us to have Tony and his students around to play around on briefs and kick stuff around creatively. It’s important to the way I work that I get to be exposed to interesting young humans from every type of background.”

He added: “I also like that the students can be blended into real tangible working experiences. I’m not into setting spec briefs just for the fun of it. I want them on real paying client briefs alongside the talent in our dept. I want my clients to meet the students.”

In the past he has incubated briefs with different creative schools to gain new insights, and held workshops with them to test a brief before a client circulates it internally. He has also allowed School of Communication Arts’ students to pitch ideas to the most senior clients at Durex. 

This is not the first time Harris has welcomed students into the building. Last year, he moved The Creative Mentor Network into the department, having worked with them promoting training courses mentoring young diverse talent. He is also a trustee and sponsor of the School of Communications Arts. He regularly hires from this pool and through the internship programme “Platform” he founded two years ago. 

Havas is complying with the government’s Covid-19 guidelines, but prior to lockdown had been offering staff the chance to use the office if they wanted to and was not at full occupancy.