Advertising and marketing agencies might think they are the kings of the world but it appears that image is confined to the TV show Madmen, with most students and graduates unable to name a single agency in the business, with the highest awareness being registered by Saatchi & Saatchi and WPP – both by a measly 4%.
So says new IPA research, which reveals how UK students perceive the ad industry and what they are looking for in a future organisation, providing invaluable insights for agencies to attract and retain fresh talent.
The results highlight a significant lack of awareness and knowledge about ad agencies by this demographic, yet a keen interest to join the business. It also shows that real differences exist in the emphasis that men and women, and white and Black Asian and Minority Ethnic individuals, place on the qualities of their future managers and workplaces.
The findings are drawn from an IPA-commissioned survey, carried out by youth recruitment platform Debut which surveyed a sample of 1,579 of their UK users, comprising current students or recent graduates.
Among the key findings are that most young people are not aware of specific agencies. While 87% of those surveyed were aware of ad agencies in general, and 77% had heard of media agencies, the research reveals that there is little to no knowledge about names of specific shops. Over half (53%) could not name a single agency, with most going completely under the radar.
There is also a knowledge gap when it comes to adland’s hours and pay. Almost half of respondents (49%) do not know if the industry demands long hours; 42% think it does and 8% think it offers short hours. Meanwhile 41% don’t know about adland salaries; 33% say the business pays well; and 26% say it does not.
Despite this lack of awareness of the agency business, almost three quarters of respondents say they definitely (29%) or might (45%) consider a career in advertising. Women are more likely than men to definitely want to join the industry (32% compared to 24% respectively), as are Black Asian and Minority Ethnic respondents compared to white respondents (34% compared to 27%).
Looking at the ideal qualities in a line manager, both men and women rated “believes in you” and “challenges you” as the top two qualities. However, qualities that perhaps require a higher level of emotional intelligence are rated much more highly in terms of importance for women than men, such as being patient (66% compared to 53%), realistic (63% compared to 55%), and kind (64% compared to 47% respectively).
When thinking of their future ideal workplace, respondents care most about clear career progression (95% citing this as most or very important), great managers (94%) and good training (92%).
There are also some slight differences when considering gender and ethnicity. Female and Black Asian and Minority Ethnic respondents are more likely to value an inclusive and diverse workplace (85% and 89% mark this as most or very important compared to 64% and 68% for male and white respondents respectively).
Michael Brown is partner of insight and cross-culture at UM, a member of the IPA’s Talent Leadership Group and a member of the IPA iList. He said: “We often talk about needing to recruit diverse talent, but we don’t know where to start. This research pinpoints the areas that we need to address. Ironically, it is clear we need to market ourselves better to this demographic.
“We also need to question why, if more people from ethnic minority backgrounds want to join the industry, this doesn’t then translate into those numbers actually entering the business; what are the barriers here.
“We also need to ensure that our managers, directors and CEOs, are aware of the value that this younger, female generation places on emotional intelligence. We must apply this to our management style if we are to ensure a fulfilled, workforce that stays in the business. There is a lot to take from this data. I urge adland to take note for a brighter, more inclusive future for us all.”
Whether this will be enough to rid the industry of its “male, pale and stale” image is another matter.
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