Tuesday 18 June 2019 10:25 am

Ad industry ‘faces brain drain’ amid creativity crisis


Reporter covering media, telecoms and marketing. Get in touch at james.warrington@cityam.com

Reporter covering media, telecoms and marketing. Get in touch at james.warrington@cityam.com

Follow James Warrington

The advertising industry could face a brain drain as employees increasingly look outside adland for their fill of creative work, according to a report published today.

Research by ad agency Impero revealed 62 per cent of people in the industry have interviewed for a job in another sector over the last 12 month, while the majority of employees only plan to stay in advertising for two to five years.

Read more: Social media firms team up with advertisers to fight online harms

While advertising is known for attracting creative talent, the report showed the industry may be suffering a crisis of creativity.


When asked to name one thing they would change about the industry, almost a quarter of respondents said they would change the work and that creativity “needs saving”.

“In order to avoid a brain drain of the best talent to other, sexier industries like tech, we need to drastically increase our focus on making great work people care about,” said Michael Scantlebury, Impero founder and creative director.

“We need to make funny work, effective work, work that really reaches people, rather than getting lost in a programmatic bubble.”

The findings highlight the troubles of an industry in flux, as companies try to foster new, technology-driven approaches while retaining their creative spirit.

The report also highlighted the need for cultural change within the advertising industry, which has been plagued by concerns over burnout, mental health and sexism.

Just under a quarter of those surveyed agreed the industry needed to create a culture that was fairer and more reflective of the outside world.

Sexism remains a deep-seated problem in adland, with 36 per cent of industry talent admitting they knew someone who has been on the receiving end of sexist behaviour.


However, 25 per cent of respondents said sexism in advertising had improved since they started working in the industry.

There was also a positive response to the question of diversity, with almost half of respondents stating their agency culture was gradually changing to reflect the outside world.

“As an industry, our single most important asset is the quality of our creative talent – our very survival depends on it,” said Chris Hirst, chief executive of Havas Creative Network.

Read more: Advertisers slam government over junk food ad ban proposals

“This means creating a culture which attracts them, as well as laying out clear career paths to hold onto them.”

It comes after Nigel Vaz, newly-elected president of the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, warned advertising firms were missing out on top talent and urged the industry to act more like start-ups to match the deep pockets and attractive corporate cultures of tech firms.

Share