Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Mavericks

"I just wanna dance the niiight awaaayy..."

No not those ones.

One thing that has been bugging me for a while is the photos I see of most advertising people. I can't help but notice that so many of them look exactly like we would expect advertising people to look.

Now that's not to make a judgement on their abilities, they may be outstanding creatives/planners/account folk - but the fact they look like advertisers unsettles me a little. It's as if creative people are being molded into a template too much.

Not this one either.
For a start, we are supposed to be in touch with and communicate to the average person. The more the industry starts to feel like it has a block way of being, the less likely it is we'll achieve that.

Secondly, our industry feels like it is sorely lacking in mavericks right now. People that have a real energy and determination to change things for the better, who are prepared to take risks and be hugely bold. Maybe they are out there, but the perception is that there aren't many making a noise. Most of the ad folk that I would class as maverick in some shape are over 40, or names from the 70's, 80's and 90's.

I worry that for the creatives, account folk and planners of the future, there aren't many new names for them to get excited about. The people students are inspired by now are probably largely the same ones who inspired students of my age.

Similarly, we are still too much a white, middle to upper class, male industry. Nowhere near as bad as it used to be, but we still need to get more people from different backgrounds. I've met incredibly smart and talented students who end up working for small agencies scattered around the country, while a posh student who is less smart ends up at a huge London agency. The first agency graduate interview I went to, I remember speaking to the other candidates, and every single person I spoke to has been to either Cambridge, Oxford or Edinburgh Universities.

We need intellectuals, we need radicals, we need the logical, the intuitive. We need a wide mix of people with the drive to take what we do forward. I've always admired W+K's policy of hiring people from different job backgrounds, who bring a different perspective.

There are so many smart people in this industry. I just hope that some of them are preparing quietly to break away from the conventional. As I said a few years ago, if HHCL was a punk ad agency, we really need a PIL agency about now.

We need more people like these:

Dave Trott
George Parker
Rob Campbell
Marcus Brown
Andrew Hovells

1 comment:

gemma said...

At the other end of the scale, I'm busy flying the flag for not-dressing trendily or being in any way trendy :)

I also didn't go to Oxbridge, start out in research, account handling or as a Planning grad trainee and I don't live in London. So unusually for a middle class white girl, I'm practically what counts for diversity in our profession at the moment!

I did notice at 1-up (the LSU junior planner training thing) last week that although there were loads of junior girls there, Andreea and I were the only female speakers. Which would indicate that the tide is changing for representation of Lady Planners with the next generation.