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How to Make Advertising an Attractive Career Option for School Leavers

Each week, we ask experts from agencies around the world and the advertising industry for their perspective on a tough issue facing the industry, from topical concerns to recurring issues.

Advertising agencies have a problem with class. As we reported in March, the industry is too dependent on recruiting middle-class talent from a select group of universities. One potential solution to this problem is to recruit from outside the typical pool of graduates. So how can companies ensure that a career in the industry is as attractive as possible?

How do you solve a problem like…making advertising an attractive career option for school-aged students?

Ryan Paulson, Group Creative Director, BBH USA

“Advertising” has a branding problem. Ask yourself if instead of “Would you consider a career in advertising?”, the question was “Would you consider a career in brand experiences and entertainment?” We need to better explain what advertising can be. Or should be.

I don’t think young people hate advertising; they hate bad publicity.

At BBH USA, we create activations that include a metaverse experience and a reality show. Call it branded entertainment. Call it an experience. Don’t call it advertising.

Because people who don’t like “publicity” are exactly the kind of people we need to attract.

Lori Bring, Vice President, Talent Acquisition, Rapp

“Fiercely individual” is a phrase we use a lot at Rapp, a motto that really resonates with young talent. Not only do we do personalized advertising, but we hire young talent from all walks of life who add to our culture by simply fitting into a certain mold. We can’t sell to the world if we don’t represent the world. In addition to partnering with several HBCUs to engage diverse young students in advertising and the work we do here, we have also moved away from the requirement of a college degree.

Additionally, we launched a new program called “Emerging Leaders,” where we train and mentor high school graduates who don’t have the luxury of going to college. They learn about the advertising industry and the work we do over the course of a year. Then, if he wishes, he becomes a full RAPP employee. We can always do more, but we’re excited to make real progress in attracting and retaining diverse talent.

Phil Case, President, Chief Customer Officer, Max Connect Digital

I am one of these “external candidates”. I didn’t study marketing or advertising in college, but fell in love with it through an internship. Reaching the next generation is easier than you think – we just have to show them what the industry offers.

At Max Connect, we partner with middle and high schools to integrate advertising into a career-specific curriculum and host career days for everyone. We offer internships to high school students as well as college students so that they can consider a future career. Above all, it is important to mentor young students and become a willing resource in the local community.

Holly Maguire, UK Managing Director, Superunion

Simply put, the next generation of talent wants more agency within an agency. The research we have conducted at Superunion with this age group shows that they have the same life goals and affluent aspirations as all the generations that came before them. However, they are unwilling to accept the same well-trodden paths to success and, in Sinatra’s inimitable words, prefer to do things “my way”.

Recognizing this need for empowerment, entrepreneurship and quick reward is key to attracting new talent – ​​embracing and encouraging their side businesses and unleashing that “bustle” and individuality in their work with clients. It is something that we do with all our talent, whatever our mandate.

Jazmen Edwards, Talent Specialist, RPA

Making advertising an attractive career option is all about showing how amazing our culture is. Advertising is a creative and collaborative field, and being able to express yourself, thoughts and feelings is not common to all areas of work. The accessibility of ERG groups is also very appealing to school-aged students – having established groups where an employee from a minority group can feel safe to talk is essential for new hires and retention. If the culture of the agency is shown, students will gravitate towards advertising. What could be more attractive than a safe space to be creative?

Jamie Williams, Managing Partner at Isobel

I don’t think it’s true that young school children are losing interest in a career in advertising. I just think most never get a chance to think about it. At Isobel, we try to tackle this problem head on with our Isobel Summer School. Each year we partner with local schools in London and offer GCSE students the opportunity to work at a creative agency for a week. They work in every department, they prepare briefs, they produce work, and we invite industry-recognized CEOs and political leaders to judge their presentations. Students tend to start out uncertain and sometimes nervous, and more often than not they leave excited and excited about a career in the creative industries – because, deep down, it’s a lot of fun.

Sarah Baumann, Managing Director, VaynerMedia London

We need to show that advertising is a relevant industry for them – and the best way is to focus the conversation on the platforms they love in a language they understand. This is where their attention is and where we can inspire them. Doing it well comes down to understanding what motivates young audiences and showing them that doing so can give them the freedom to create, analyze and influence what they currently enjoy.

It’s also crucial to open the doors to people from all walks of life now, so that we have role models for diverse talent in the future. We’ve removed the college degree requirement for all roles and created entry-level positions for creators, post-creative strategists, and media analysts. This has allowed us to reach a more diverse talent pool across all dimensions (e.g. ethnicity, LBGTQ+, disability, neurodiversity, socio-economic background) and has already been key to driving our clients’ business in a more relevant and inclusive way. .

Yasmin Arrigo, Global Brand and Editorial Director, Amplifier and Creator of ADventure

The future talent pool urgently needs to be redesigned, starting with creating equity for young people to enter a pathway. Recruiting beyond traditional routes requires classroom outreach. That’s why I created the outreach program, ADventure, supported by Brixton Finishing School and Common People, to go into public schools and highlight advertising career choices, salaries and growth potential, while reporting campaigns beyond traditional media – in online games, IRL and on social media. platforms that 14-18 year olds love.

To date, 300 volunteers – from brands, media and agencies, including Amplify – have signed up to speak at schools across the country, reaching more than 15,000 students face-to-face and thousands more online. line. Amplify encourages all of its teams to spend time at local schools, supporting programs like ADventure, to ensure the talent pool in the industry is truly representative of its audience.

Matt Garcia, Managing Director and Head of Account Management, Fallon

Fallon’s Brand Lab likes to say, “It’s hard to pursue a career in advertising if you don’t know it exists.

The average counselor-to-student ratio at public high schools in the United States is 491:1 — and it’s often much worse in school systems in less affluent communities. It is perhaps less about specifically exposing students to advertising and more about exposing the world of business, marketing and advertising to students who otherwise might not have been exposed at all. . The answer lies in how we enable a wider range of people to access a potential career in advertising.

Olivia Woodhead, Head of Talent, MullenLowe Group UK

We know Gen Z (and in turn Gen Alpha) want a career that empowers and empowers them to help others, so talking about more than just creative output is vital. They are looking for a purpose; how we can influence societal culture, create positive change and move the world forward through advertising. At MLG, our mission statement includes, “We will inspire positive behavior change among our audiences through communication that sparks emotional connection.” Communicate openly about partnering with organizations they can relate to, such as Creative Mentor Network, which provides career mentorship to young people from lower socio-economic backgrounds, and inspire them through apprenticeships like our program “The Ship “.

Kate Thrumble, Executive Director, Talent, R/GA London

The advertising industry must work in partnership with the education system to help open the hearts and minds of students through experiences; initiatives such as national challenges sponsored by an advertising organization allow students to get involved regardless of their perceived strengths and weaknesses. Basically, agencies should work together to help with this change – operating in silos will only see minimal change. At R/GA London, we partner with Brixton Finishing School, enabling us to continue to disrupt the way we find new and diverse talent, by offering mentoring sessions and hosting several events for the school over the course of of the year.

Do you want to participate in future debates? Email me at sam.bradley@thedrum.com.

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