An econometrician sharing the table with someone from a television production studio and advising the client on how to bring alive their strategy in video assets and producing that kind of work? Unlikely scenario a few years ago - ground reality today.
With clients running a tight ship and demanding more RoI on spends from both media and creative agencies, adland is faced with the challenge of finding the talent to deliver just that. This explains the largest of agencies in the fray looking outside of the advertising fraternity to hire the new kind of talent that can deliver new age solutions. While client pressures and newer practice areas demand new talent on the one hand, looking outside advertising for talent per se is not new, remind adlanders.
Jishnu Sen, president and CEO, Grey India, says, “It is not a new trend. Two things are happening. One, ad agencies are getting into newer categories and disciplines for which they require talent with very specific skill sets. Two, a number of people are trying to shift to advertising from integrated communication agencies and so a number of profiles are available with interesting career prospects. And we need new talent across disciplines – planning, servicing, creatives and others.”
While Sen says that agencies hire talent from diverse fields across disciplines, Shiv Sethuraman, CEO, TBWA India points out that recruitment for creatives has been far more eclectic and progressive than account management or planning. “With the latter two disciplines, agencies have always opted for the safe path - B schools or advertising schools - with a few notable exceptions,” he adds.
Ashish Bhasin, chairman, India and CEO, South East Asia, Aegis Media, says hiring talent from diverse fields will solve the agency’s problem temporarily. “At best that will only partly solve issues at certain levels. The solution, in my view, lies in attracting better quality talent from good colleges/ MBA institutes and then training them, according to the need of our industry, on an ongoing basis. That’s where we, as an industry, often fail”.
Concurring, Anita Nayyar, CEO, Havas Media Group India and South Asia, says, “What is required is open-mindedness in approach, training, mentoring, exposure to the world around, client brand, on-the-job experience, two-way brain storming sessions from cross-talent within the team, encouraging of talent and liberalisation of creative ideas. Many great entrepreneurs have not been thoroughly schooled but they had an enduring curiosity and a sense of learning which they never stopped, apart from the passion of delivering the best output.”
Interestingly, the phenomenon of mining talent from outside of the fraternity existed even in the 1980s, reflects ad veteran Alyque Padamsee. When the erstwhile CEO of Lintas headed the agency for 14 years, he recalls that even in those days he hired a number of poets, painters and professionals from performing arts. “Advertising is a business of human behavior and we need talent who can understand and analyse this science instead of just looking at creatives done by other agencies,” he adds.
Jishnu Sen, president and CEO, Grey India
“I genuinely believe advertising never had a restriction on from where we mine talent. Everyday there are new categories, new disciplines coming up and therefore we need to look outside of the advertising fraternity to hire talent. For instance, we need to hire from the retail space. We need to hire from architecture schools. We need to hire people with 3D skill sets. At Grey, we hired a number of people from NID for our retail division. At the end of the day, an ad agency is in the business of offering brand solutions. So for anyone we hire, a basic knowledge of brands and consumers is a must. ”
Shiv Sethuraman, CEO, TBWA India
“Agencies - at least the creative agencies - have always hired people from diverse fields. If that wasn’t the case you wouldn’t have a former tea taster becoming the most respected figure in Indian advertising. Looking forward, there is an ongoing widening of the traditional hunting ground with the attention shifting to digital technologists, coders, retail merchandising experts and so on. These are people who the industry wouldn’t have considered a couple of years ago.”
Ashish Bhasin, chairman, India and CEO South East Asia, Aegis Media
“While it always helps to get talent from different and diverse fields, specifically, for advertising and media, I feel the problem lies elsewhere. I think we need to get better quality entry level candidates and we need to train them better. The problem the industry is facing is that the quality of people coming in is not at the same level of what it was a few years ago. This cannot be solved by just getting people from diverse fields.”
Anita Nayyar, CEO, Havas Media Group, India and South Asia
“Talent mining can and does bring innovative solutions with its alternative perspective. In fact at Havas Media, we have taken on varied potential people from marketing, creative and films and they are trained media professionals today. At CXO levels too, roles are industry agnostic. This is not a panacea, besides they soon adapt themselves to the industry. The advantage is the learning’s they bring to the table from another industry, a fresh perspective. To be able to connect the dots – (that) is the climate we need to create for our present and future talent.”
Alyque Padamsee, former ad man and and theatre personality
“I am a big believer of hiring creative talent from outside advertising. When I was in Lintaswe hired a number of poets, painters, theatre professionals and they all did very well in advertising. For instance, theatre professionals are proficient in understanding and analysing human behavior, different characters, which can be very useful in advertising while mapping consumers. We also hired a number of MBAs and students from NID for our servicing team. I used to call myself the chief stimulation officer and we used to invite a number of singers, artists to come and perform to get inspire d.”