M&C Saatchi overhauls creative placement system to aid teams

M&C Saatchi is to revamp its creative placement programme amid renewed criticism that the industry is still failing to take collective action to nurture aspiring copywriters and art directors.

The so-called M&C Saatchi JNR programme will aim to make the placement experience as realistic as possible for those taking part.

Placement teams will work on real briefs and compete for the chance to have their work run on Adshel sites.

Two senior creatives will act as mentors to the young teams, who will also be shown how other agency departments operate. Each of the placement creatives will be paid about £100 a week and their work periods strictly limited to three months.

Matt Eastwood, the M&C Saatchi creative director, said: "After that we will either hire them or let them go. But, at the very least, they will walk away with some produced work in their book."

The initiative comes amid lingering complaints that the placement system is chaotic, with those taking part in it used by advertising agencies as cheap labour.

Almost two years ago, the UK's leading creative directors gave an undertaking to colleges to develop a comprehensive, reliable programme of work experience.

But Tony Cullingham, who runs the course for advertising creatives at West Herts College, claimed the initiative had come to nothing. "What M&C Saatchi is doing is a step in the right direction, but what is needed is better co-ordination of the system," he said. "Several agencies that I have written to about taking some of my students on placement haven't even bothered to reply. That's not only mean-spirited, but short-sighted."