In this post, TBWA creative Chloe Saintilan (pictured above), argues the advertising industry needs a serious rethink on how it educates its graduates today if it wants them be equipped to handle an increasingly disrupted agency landscape over the coming decade…
At the B&T ‘Towards 2030’ Forum next Thursday (BUY YOUR TICKETS HERE), a bunch of the industry’s young folk will be discussing the agency of the future and creating business models.
Having been shortlisted on the 30 Under 30 list for creative, it was really interesting seeing the neatly divided ten categories, including everything from production, project management, account service, strategy, PR, tech and entrepreneurs.
Because in my mind, in light of the rise of digital product studios and consultancies, the key role in the ‘agency of 2030’ will be all of these categories combined. This is a natural result of the evolving needs of clients and subsequent offerings of agencies – whereby the right solution for the client isn’t always an ad, but a digital product or service. Advertising has become so much more than making ads, so creatives need to do so much more than think only of ads.
A talk last year about the ‘Modern Creative Leader’ as part of Vivid Festival first got me thinking about this, where an industry leader highlighted the increasing desire for ‘hybrids’ in agencies. Instead of seeking out ‘creatives’ in the traditional sense, they’re interested in hiring ‘slashies’ that have a whole suite of skills beyond merely creative ideation alone. Digitally minded creative individuals that can simultaneously approach business problems like an entrepreneur, produce the ideas (increasingly digital products and services) like a product manager/producer, and take them to market. Basically an advertising Swiss Army Knife.
Already we’re seeing everything from strategic suits to creative strategists and creative technologists, and without a doubt we’ll see these converge more closely as client demands and agency offerings continue to evolve.
So young professionals like myself, taking the first steps in an industry that’s advancing every day, need to face the fact that the role of the ‘creative’ in the traditional sense will most likely be extinct by 2030. Instead, we need to embrace the changing role of ‘creative’ as equal parts planner, product manager, and entrepreneur – several of the categories on the 30U30 list.
But how do we future-proof ourselves for the roles in the ‘agency of 2030’, with its incredibly diverse offerings?
A few days after the talk last year about the ‘Modern Creative Leader’, I saw a media release in trade press calling for applications to a Copywriting School run by one of the leading comms institutions in Sydney. It said that you’d learn to create and refine copy for TVCs, radio, print and eDMs.
It was as I read this that it became clear what young creatives should be doing given the current climate and where the industry is headed. And it’s most definitely not doing a copywriting course because you’re a copywriter.
Courses focused on copy and art direction alone don’t reflect the future of the industry – one where not all solutions are ads themselves but, increasingly, actual products and services.
Instead of the traditional art direction/copywriting courses, we should be embracing this Swiss Army Knife mentality and seeking out courses that teach us to think and act like entrepreneurs – from coding to UX design and product development – to be able to offer and produce the solutions that brands need. That’s why I’ve enrolled in a product management course at General Assembly. Then after that I’ll do a UX design or growth hacking course. Creative ideas can come from anyone. But not everyone can leverage design thinking to conceptualise and wireframe an app.
Advertising education should also reflect the shift in traditional roles and corresponding skillsets as advertising itself changes – from creative advertising courses at universities, to AWARD School. Alongside the TVC and radio brief next year, AWARD School should think about introducing a product brief, fostering this mindset and skillset.
So next Thursday, I’ll be incredibly excited and intrigued to hear what people have to say not just about the offerings of the ‘agency of 2030’ but the internal roles themselves.