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
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
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
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
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.