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Advertising Talent Employment

Advertising is failing to sell itself to young, diverse talent says IPA


By John Glenday | Reporter

September 25, 2020 | 4 min read

New IPA research has highlighted a significant lack of awareness and knowledge about ad agencies among students, despite a keen interest to join the business. The report has found significant differences in expectations of future working practices between men and women, as well as between white and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) students.


Adland is failing to sell itself to young, diverse talent, an IPA research report has found / Pexels

Adland has an awareness problem

  • The IPA-commissioned research is drawn from a survey of 1,579 students and recent graduates carried out by youth recruitment platform Debut.

  • This found that while 87% of young people were aware of ad agencies and media agencies in general over 53% were unable to identify a single agency by name.

  • The highest levels of awareness were reserved for Saatchi & Saatchi and WPP, which jointly received 4% recognition.

  • This knowledge gap extends to hours and pay, with 49% blissfully oblivious to the industry’s long hours culture – 8% thought shorter hours would be the order of the day.

  • Ignorance of industry norms extends to salaries with 33% believing it pays well and 26% expecting it does not - with the remainder admitting they don't know.

It’s failing to attract young, diverse talent

  • A lack of interest does not dampen enthusiasm to enter the industry however, with close to three quarters affirming they definitely (29%) or might (45%) consider a role.

  • This is even more pronounced among women, who are more likely to favour an adland career than male counterparts by 32% to 24%, as well as between BAME respondents 34% and their white peers 27%.

  • Further differences were identified in the emphasis placed on inclusive workplaces by women and BAME individuals. In particular, the survey found younger female graduates looked for emotional intelligence from their future managers.

  • Notably, such keenness hasn’t yet translated into redressing a diversity imbalance among agencies, with the most recent IPA study on the matter showing the number of ethnic minority employees fell over the past 12 months.

How can the industry fix this?

  • Not all is lost, however. Michael Brown, partner of insight and cross-culture at UM and a member of the IPA’s Talent Leadership Group, recommended better marketing to under-represented demographics.

  • Brown said: ”Ironically, it is clear we need to market ourselves better to this demographic. We also need to question why, if more people from ethnic minority backgrounds want to join the industry, this doesn’t then translate into those numbers entering the business.”

  • Stepping into the breach, the IPA has launched a new careers page on its website, featuring over 40 job descriptions which together document the range of opportunities available.

  • The IPA also runs the Creative Pioneers apprenticeship programme and the nationwide AdUnlocked careers open day.

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