OPINION: Mark Tutssel in America

Not so long ago it seemed like New York, San Francisco, Minneapolis and Portland were the most creative cities in America, made famous by the work created at small shops such as Cliff Freeman, Goodby, Fallon and Wieden & Kennedy.

But lately the fresh work emerging from the States comes from many markets and agencies of all sizes. Ground Zero, the Martin Agency, Crispin Porter, Carmichael Lynch, Deutsch, Leo Burnett and DDB. Great work is now coming out of Richmond, Boston, Miami and Chicago.

So when it comes to hiring talent here, it's very different to the UK market, where the best creative talent automatically migrates to London.

In the capital, advertising is a small community, the best creatives know each other and move from shop to shop, often without the assistance of headhunters. They know each other's work, the good stuff and the bad, their personalities and reputations. So hiring there is very different to here.

In the US, a lot of agencies have recruitment departments that have really good relationships with the top headhunters and colleges from the East to West Coast. Headhunters play a much bigger role here. Unlike the UK, which is London-centric, the sheer size of the States requires headhunters to identify the best creative talent across this vast country. Agency recruiters scour the art colleges for the freshest talent and a lot of big agencies have an intern programme, where they take on a dozen or so new advertising students from the big colleges.

The difference between here and the UK is that schools in the US specialise in "advertising", and creative is just a small part of the curriculum.

It was a lot easier spotting new talent in the UK, because of schools such as Watford.

I've been here for just over eight months and have seen hundreds and hundreds of books. You quickly realise that, like the UK, there aren't that many great creatives. I've also spent time in San Francisco and New York talking to headhunters and teams. This is a vast country and a big talent pool, but I've been helped enormously by Eric Silver and Hal Curtis, fellow chief creatives.

Recently, I hired Kash Sree and Jeff Labbe, two creatives who scored top honours at this year's Cannes International Advertising Festival. Kash won the prestigious Grand Prix in television for Nike's "tag", and a gold for Nike's "shade running", while Jeff picked up a gold Lion for the Fox Sports campaign "beware of things made in October".

They both have experience in the UK and the US. I asked them if there was a difference between creative talent in the US compared with the UK.

For them, advertising in Britain is a "religion", while in the US it's a "job". The UK market is more ad literate: consumers "buy advertising, while in the US they still tend to "sell". Also they believe the majority of creatives in the UK are "students of advertising": they are aware of the great work coming out of America and the rest of the world, while generally most US creatives aren't.

But when it comes down to creative success at the award shows, it is still the US versus the UK, as this year's Cannes top honours once again proved - the lion's share of awards having been taken home by these two countries.

Overall, there is a massive creative talent pool in both the US and the UK. And if we both continue to produce work of the calibre of Nike's "tag and Club 18-30, the industry is in good shape, on both sides of the pond.

- Stuart Elliott is on holiday.


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