Inhousing Work & Wellbeing Agency Culture

Should brands be worried about agencies seeking offshore solutions to the talent crunch?

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By Hannah Bowler | Journalist

December 10, 2021 | 5 min read

The World Federation of Advertisers’ (WFA) director of media services has raised concerns about agencies seeking “sizable” offshore solutions to fill the “severe” talent gaps.

Speaking at a Kepler-hosted event on in-housing, Matt Green said agencies are playing down the issue and some big accounts are really struggling.

“I’m having members come to me and express their concerns about the severe talent shortages at their agencies,” Green said. “Clients who are coming to us after their agency said they’re unable to start an account as we have to wait X amount of time before we can expect our team to be at 80% ready to service our business.”

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WFA’s Matt Green raises concerns over agencies looking offshore to plug talent gaps

“This is a real worry for many of our members,” he said.

Green understands that some agencies are looking to international markets to staff accounts. He said you might have your “C suite in New York and London and then vast sways of resource that is based offshore.”

“That will have a very different look and feel,” he said. “Maybe it’s not a bad thing but it might be a worry for some clients that are used to having people in local offices. It’s just a big switch and it might not work for you.”

Green was joined at the event by Phil Wilson, departing senior vice-president of global marketing at American Express, who pushed back on the notion of offshoring.

“If you’re in the UK and you have a team in the US, you wouldn’t call it offshore, but if you have a team in the UK and then the team in India, people call it offshoring,” he said. “I think that that connotation can be quite disrespectful actually, particularly to colleagues and some of these markets that are considered offshore.”

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Wilson said global teams are now the future, and agencies and brands should embrace them as a solution to the talent crunch.

“If the talent is in other markets and it’s in an abundance that should be your first port of call. If you’re confident that talent is going to be great and it’s lower cost, even better. It’s a win-win,” he said.

Andrew Dimitriou, EMEA chief executive officer of VMLY&R, admitted to The Drum that his agency has had issues staffing up accounts and there has been churn, but said it has not yet affected the business.

Dimitriou said filling the gaps with international talent is also a challenge right now as the ‘great resignation’ is a global issue. “There are talent shortages in every market, it’s not like there is a single market sitting there with an abundance of talent,” he said.

Dimitriou said the industry needs to get past the distinction of offshoring and just consider it a normal way of working.

“If we can get to that and clients see the benefit then suddenly instead of 700 people in London working on a project you’ve got 4,500 people around the world working on a piece of business 24 hours a day,” he said. “That’s where it can become really powerful for clients.”

Elsewhere Dimitriou called for more honest conversations with clients on lead times in a bid to tackle talent burnout. He said: “Agencies need to say, ‘hey, here is our timeline and here is our way and agree to it,’ because things are just getting faster and faster and that’s when employee pressure comes in.”

Inhousing Work & Wellbeing Agency Culture

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