The Anchor:6 ways ad agencies can attract top talent

03 Jan,2012

By Partha Sinha


By abolishing the term ‘agency’ : Nobody, absolutely nobody from Harvard or Rhode Island School of Design would like to join an ‘agency’. Anything, even if it is as vague as a brand house or a communication company, sounds more respectable than an ‘agency’.


By not behaving like an ‘agency’: The term ‘agency’ was born because advertising companies represented the media owners as their agency. Today the creative agencies don’t do that, but they represent another lot – the film producers. Today ad agencies are the agents for filmmakers. More time and energy goes into pushing a producer to the client than anything else. Again, no talent wants to come in to help producers buy very expensive cars and apartments.


By changing the agency business model : By behaving like true middlemen, agencies never kept any IP with them. So today, the agency valuation is a joke. Again great talent will never join an industry whose current and future valuation is worthless. The advertising industry should be ‘valued’ for the assets they create, and that calls for IP-based remuneration.


By getting rid of agency fears : Today, the confidence level of agencies has hit rock bottom. Fear is the primary driving force for the functioning of an agency. Agencies are afraid of not only the clients but of film producers, hoarding contractors, research agencies and all other sundry people. No young talent would work in an atmosphere like this. Agencies can become a bit more confident by shifting the conversation from ‘I think’ to ‘I know’. Young talent would love a place that’s more confident of its creations and not just based on hunch and judgment but based on knowledge.


By restructuring the agency organisation : There are people in agencies whose primary job is to second-guess the client . They are clients’ agents inside the organisation (and they can come from any discipline, even creative). No self-respecting talent wants to work for a client, he/she wants to work with a client. Agencies need to rethink their organisation and put emphasis on creation rather than managing expectations. This will increase the inflow of talent.


By discarding some of the agency presentations : There are many occasions where the senior agency types cut a sorry figure in front of a young audience with their sepia-tinted presentations and dead thinking. Even some of the advertising and brand talks that happen on TV shows can scare young talent off. For their own good, ad agencies need to change their thought pieces and representatives. Otherwise young talent will soon start referring to advertising in the past tense.


I know that all 6 of these are virtually impossible to achieve. But then, who said attracting great talent was easy?

Partha Sinha is the Managing Partner at BBH India.


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One response to “The Anchor:6 ways ad agencies can attract top talent”

  1. Naresh Gupta says:

    Advertising is mentioned in past tense by the youngsters even today. They would rather be in media. After all agents are puppets, today is the age of masters