PERSPECTIVE: Driving the talent off the turf will not help the industry’s future

The chances are that Emma McAllister, one of the brightest graduate trainees at M&C Saatchi, will leave the business within two years. Equally, Henry Debenham at Ogilvy & Mather will not last the course either.

The chances are that Emma McAllister, one of the brightest graduate

trainees at M&C Saatchi, will leave the business within two years.

Equally, Henry Debenham at Ogilvy & Mather will not last the course

either.



Ditto the people who in the past few months have got coveted graduate

trainee positions at J. Walter Thompson, TBWA GGT Simons Palmer and

Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO.



This is no judgment on the ability or personality of these young

people.



It is simply that they are all at a vulnerable age for working in

advertising. They are all under 25.



According to a bunch of agency heads that Campaign lunched recently,

many graduates now entering the business see advertising as a stepping

stone to something more rewarding - working in web businesses, switching

to management consulting, studying for a PHD, travelling to Thailand,

launching their own businesses and so on. This, it goes without saying,

is in marked contrast to the days when said agency heads were starting

out.



Why? In my view it has to do with agencies not trying hard enough: they

delegate the recruitment process down the line, they don’t pay enough,

they don’t hire personnel directors to handle career development, they

don’t give graduates their head and added responsibility if they can

handle it. Too many people in advertising are protective of their turf

or client relationships and the last thing they want are bright young

people invading their territory.



Which is why it’s such a shame that one of the most venerable figures in

advertising continues to play the elusive card when it comes to offering

his views on the business. His Frankness, you see, is the only candidate

who has refused to be profiled in Campaign’s long-running Kings of

Madison Avenue series.



Could it be that the Lowe Lintas merger is not bedding down as securely

as Lowe and his colleagues at Interpublic would have us believe? Does

Lowe consider himself so removed from his fellow network chief

executives that he cannot bear to be seen in their company? Is he too

busy chairing Octagon Worldwide, the Interpublic-owned sports and

entertainment group?



Does he hate the idea of having to discuss, let alone defend, those

Magnum ice-cream ads? Or could it be that he’s worried we’ll portray him

as the arch-manipulator and maverick that some have him down as?



It’s a shame because Lowe is one of the figures who could help raise the

standing of the business as a whole. He’s the person who helped make the

British advertising industry the gold standard by which other markets

measure their own achievements. As the founder of one of the great UK

agencies who has always - in words and deeds, if not in print - put the

making of great ads at the very heart of the matter, it’s a shame he

won’t speak out.



caroline.marshall@haynet.com.



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