The London advertising industry job market is shaking off some of its old shackles and looking for a more diverse group of new recruits, according to Bartle Bogle Hegarty London managing director, Charlie Rudd.
Formal qualifications are becoming less of a requirement and the market is broadening its view on the skills and attributes required to keep ideas relevant to consumers and brands: "The sort of talent we're looking to bring in is from a much more diverse background with more diverse skills and experience," said Rudd. "Traditionally we used to think in quite narrow terms about where we would find creatives. Typically copywriters might be graduates with English degrees and art directors would come from art college but I think that's quite a narrow minded way of thinking about where you find talent for advertising these days.
"Increasingly, we're looking for young people with technology skills, who can do interactive design or user experience, and those narrow bounds of where you used to look feel inappropriate now. It doesn't mean they're wrong, they're just too exclusive. As an industry we're no longer so fixated with whether or not people have a degree, it's more about their intellectual capital and ability to help build interesting ideas."
A Greater London Authority economics report in 2011 estimated around 73,000 jobs were provided by the advertising industry in the city. A report released by Deloitte last month made the bold claim that the industry contributed as much as £100bn to the UK economy as a whole, when factors such as how the industry supports others - the media, for example, with advertising revenues - were taken into account, and the knock-on effects advertising had in boosting the wider economy. The department for culture, media and sport estimated more conservatively in 2011 that the creative industries contributed just over £36bn in GVA to the UK economy.
The Deloitte report led to calls from industry figures for government to relax red-tape regulations such as TUPE, which protects workers when companies undergo a takeover, but translates to the advertising industry with difficulty when agencies win over business and are required to rehire staff who worked on an account originally. There is some frustration in the industry that government has overlooked the importance of the market in stimulating economic growth and jobs in the light of the financial crisis. While the jobs market in advertising took a hit when the credit crunch began, Rudd says it has started to recover.
"I wouldn't define it as an either good or bad jobs market," he said. "It's an erratic, unpredictable jobs market, there's much more volatility connected to agencies' income at the moment so there's less certainty in it. A few years ago it was definitely bad, 2009 would have been a bad time to be joining the industry, it's better than that now, it's just not certain."
Recent figures show advertising expenditure rose by 1.8 per cent year-on-year in 2012 and is predicted to increase by 3.1 per cent in 2013 to a total of £17.2bn. The rapid growth of internet advertising is continuing, showing an increase of 10.9 per cent in the third quarter of 2012 and estimated at over £5.3bn for the year, showing that there is growth in the advertising market, particularly in the digital world. BBH runs an internal recruitment scheme, Homegrown, to attract and develop young talent at the agency, but while the country in the thick of its digital revolution, Rudd says its important for those seeking a job in advertising to remember the core values of the trade.
"What is always going to be the premium and the added value our industry generates is an appreciation of ideas to help brands connect with consumers. We can argue about everything that's happening from a technology and media point of view but that is still the most important thing that you must love and want to be connected with," he said. "The most important thing in our industry is the ideas we give our clients, that's where the value lies, and we look for people's appreciation and ability to help create those more than anything else."