‘Lack of creative talent’ is a phrase that crops up instantly when one asks creative heads about challenges in the advertising industry. Let’s face it: it’s not just among creatives that ‘talent shortage’ is a priority issue. But with creatives, the challenges have multiplied with the number of creative options that have been thrown open before them. And it’s not just at the senior levels that this is relevant as an issue.
For one, the movies, have always been aspirational for creatives, presenting a larger creative canvas for them to work on. With the boom in television, and even digital content, there are other avenues to express oneself than a 30-second commercial. It’s another thing that one will have to wait a while before even the first 30-seconder comes your way in an agency.
Ajay Gahlaut, executive creative director, Ogilvy & Mather, suggests that one reason is that creative people are looking away from advertising as it has lost its glamour and comes with remuneration problems. He explains, “With so many choices for creative people there are so many other things for them to do. It’s become one of many choices rather than ‘the’ choice it used to be. Also in remuneration terms it has steadily gone down from being one of the higher paid professions. So, talented people want to be compensated for their talent and they don’t seem to get that anymore. Starting salaries from 15 years ago are still the same, which is ridiculous considering how other fields have grown.”
Raj Kamble, managing partner, Famous Innovations, echoes Gahlaut’s sentiments about the remuneration. He also outlines other reasons why people are not choosing advertising as the first option. He says, “Times have changed now. Talent goes where money is, and let’s face it, advertising doesn’t provide that now. Also, today with the options of so many new media lines, avenues have opened for them (creatives). There are so many interesting options. There’s also an entrepreneurial wave right now in our country. I know three people who have left advertising agencies to go to start their production houses. Others are moving to/forming e-commerce sites.”
Nitesh Tiwari, chief creative officer, Leo Burnett, adds, “Right now, people aren’t joining it because it isn’t as lucrative compared to other media fields at the start of one’s career. Along with that, I also feel it’s due to what they’re hearing from their seniors (in colleges) about advertising – they’re not giving the best feedback about it.”
Arun Iyer, NCD, Lowe Lintas and Partners, thinks otherwise, and points out that things aren’t as bad as they are made out to be. “It was first choice by default earlier, because there weren’t a lot of options. But, I think advertising is being flogged a lot more than it should be. I see people explore a lot of other things, but then again, people from other industries are also moving to advertising. When people have options to explore, they’ll go for them. The other options like television may pay a little better, but the kind of job satisfaction and joy advertising gives you, I don’t think any other business can give you,” he says.
Josy Paul, chairman and chief creative officer, BBDO India, reasons that we need to redefine what ‘advertising’ is today, before jumping to conclusions.
“Look at the range of categories at Cannes Lions – print and TV are just 20 per cent of the verticals. That’s because advertising also includes other fast emerging sections of media and creativity - event marketing, graphic design, fashion design, digital content, script writing and film making. Talent is spreading across all these verticals.”
He argues that all talent feeding a brand’s commercial and editorial content is actually working in advertising. “So advertising is still among the top career choice for young creatives. It’s just that the idea of advertising is changing,” surmises Paul.
Ajay Gahlaut, executive creative director, Ogilvy & Mather
“With digital proliferating, there are lots of options in new media too. Bollywood has such large studios and each wants a release each Friday - that’s an extremely interesting thing to do as well. Right from actors to cinematographers, to directors, there are lots of other options. So, with these choices, it’s not even a second choice and has gone further down.”
Josy Paul, chairman and chief creative officer, BBDO India
“Advertising is not what it used to be. It’s evolving into so many streams. Look at the range of categories at Cannes Lions – print and TV are just 20% of the verticals. That’s because advertising also includes other fast emerging sections of media and creativity - event marketing, graphic design, fashion design, digital content, script writing and film making. Talent is spreading across all these verticals.”
Nitesh Tiwari, chief creative officer, Leo Burnett
“I wanted to join advertising because it allowed me to work on a range of products across brands. I had an assurance (remuneration wise) with my full-time advertising job that one doesn’t get with being a television serial or film writer. Another reason for me to join advertising was that I really liked the culture of the business from what I had seen during my internship.”
Arun Iyer, national creative director, Lowe Lintas and Partners
“When I started my career (15-16 years ago) I didn’t start with a high salary. As you go along and make it big, you get paid better. Other businesses pay more, but that’s a short term gain. In a creative business, you need to be having fun in what you’re doing – and that’s something advertising offers.”
Raj Kamble, managing partner, Famous Innovations
“The times have changed now and advertising doesn’t offer the same money that other creative fields offer. Talent goes where there’s money and today with so many options and new media, avenues are open for them.”