Expert learnings on how to effectively nurture young talent and save advertising, along with your wallet. By Ryan McLaughlin, CSO, Tribal Worldwide New York
“However much we would like advertising to be a science – because life would be simpler that way – the fact is that it is not. It is a subtle, ever-changing art, defying formularization, flowering on freshness and withering on imitation; where what was effective one day, for that very reason, will not be effective the next, because it has lost maximum impact of originality.” – Bill Bernbach
Three interns from different schools walk into my office: one from a state school, one from a portfolio school, and one from a top tier liberal arts university. They know 2% of what ad agencies currently do, 5% of what we used to do, and even scarier, 1% of what we’ll do tomorrow. Begging the question: How effective are universities at preparing our youth for the workforce?
Learning from the Millennial generation, where debt and jobs are the two primary concerns in life, “Generation Edge” (ages 20 and under) should have the opportunity to decide on an option that doesn’t lead them down a path of financial insecurity. Today’s adults know best that a college degree does not guarantee a great job, or any job for that matter. And professors who have left the marketing and advertising industry often have a dated perspective and little to no understanding of the transformative shifts that occur in the industry on a day-to-day basis.
Rather than spending $75-120k to attend a four-year institution, I recommend getting a basic college education for one-two years then enrolling in an agency development program to study your specialization. The agency would require a similar “admission fee,” but in return the student would receive an accredited degree after only a year. In doing this, they would be saving 30-60k or more.
Advertising agencies can provide both research and analytical resources that most schools either 1.) Don’t have budget for, or 2.) Require specialists since many of today’s companies are already using innovative social listening tools that are both expensive and require training. Meaning, by the time students have graduated, the resources they are currently using will inevitably be outdated.
Upon acceptance, “agency students” would have the opportunity to work through real client challenges versus the hypothetical “case study” often used in school classrooms. This type of program* would also offer students networking opportunities and the ability to grow their own professional network, furthering career potential.
Unlike an internship, monthly evaluations and yearly goals that involve success criteria such as awards, new business, billings, etc. would be put into place. Not only would this enrich a student’s education, but it’ll also cultivate young talent with fresh minds for agencies, along with insight into their specific market segment.
Unfortunately, most agencies don’t have development tools for future talent, only current talent.
Adding insult to injury – prospective talent is often wooed by big name companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Google due to not only unique work environment perks but also the types of innovative projects that young talent thirsts for.
Developing Future Talent
At Tribal, we are currently testing a new development tool that teaches startup thinking and collaboration. We’ve partnered with a Brooklyn based incubator and created two cross-functional teams working within the space on innovation concepts. This specific initiative is designed to help us, a large multi-functional agency, innovate as individual startups by allowing employees to explore, concept and develop products and services within a collaborative environment outside agency walls. Since the start of this venture, we’ve seen our best and brightest thinkers flex their invention and innovation muscles, as they gain valuable skills around collaboration, team dynamics, cross-functional marketing, and prototyping. During our panel, we will reveal the results of this venture.
*Think of this as a more holistic version of Wieden’s WK12, which focuses solely on creative talent.
Whether you agree or disagree watch me go head to head with the Managing Director of Miami Ad School Europe GmbH at SXSW 2015, by voting for this panel session, now.
Ryan McLaughlin, Chief Strategy Officer, Tribal Worldwide
Niklas Frings-Rupp, Managing Director, Miami Ad School Europe GmbH