Right on, Mike’s!

I read John Burghardt's recent article (Viewpoint, May 20/02) regarding the Mike's campaign, and agree completely that this is a true targeted winner!

I read John Burghardt’s recent article (Viewpoint, May 20/02) regarding the Mike’s campaign, and agree completely that this is a true targeted winner!

As a client of The Brainstorm Group, I was sorry that they were not mentioned as the agency for Mike’s. They are a stellar collection of creative and talented folks, who work hard to know their client and their business.

The hands-on approach of all the Brainstorm team results in excellent advertising and media placement for their clients.

It is wonderful to know that others recognize their talents too.

Megan Johnson

Marketing Manager

Sherway Gardens, Cadillac Fairview

Toronto, Ont.

Train or perish

Regarding your recent article ‘The staffing solution’ (Strategy, June 3/02):

After over 15 years of recruiting experience dealing with both agencies and clients at all levels, the main issue that I see is the lack of formalized training and mentoring within every sector of the agency business, as dictated to the agencies by their clients. Yes, those same clients who, day in and day out, bemoan the lack of value their agencies are delivering to them.

Once upon a time, most agencies had formalized training programs, like Leo Burnett’s Black Pencil Academy or Ogilvy’s formalized cross functional training program, that sought out the best and most creative minds early on in their careers. These industry leaders worked very hard to shape the future of the business by investing in their most important asset, their people. Nowadays, thanks to ground breaking innovations such as ‘fire the handlers’ and Labatt’s latest adventure at Grip, agencies are forced to eliminate all staff but the most senior level executives.

My question is this, who are tomorrow’s Grip? Those handlers that the agency business fired at the request of their clients were one day going to be creative directors and presidents. Recruiting from the client side isn’t going to solve the problem, its only going to exacerbate it. Reducing the overall size of the talent pool in a business whose only asset is talent is ultimately going to shrink the entire business. Eventually, we will have ‘not trained’ and ‘handler-fired’ the entire industry into oblivion.

I know it’s difficult to train new recruits. They’re young, they think they know everything, they have better computer skills than you or I do, they slow the process down, it takes time out of billable hours, and they just don’t know the score. But then again, we were all new recruits once not so long ago.

Look at how many leaders in today’s business got their start at Ogilvy, Leo Burnett or JWT. Dom Caruso, Gerry Frascione, Bob Shanks, John Clinton, etc., etc. All stellar products of agencies that invested in their business by hiring juniors and turning them into leaders.

I believe the clients need a wake-up call to re-hire the handlers and invest in them with their agency partners. Turn them into tomorrow’s agency CEOs and creative directors. So you can still have creatives and strategists who build brands that mean something to consumers. Before it’s too late.

Terence M. Donnelly

EVP, Mandrake

Toronto, Ont.

Agencies addressing training issue

‘The Staffing Solution,’ (Strategy, June 3/02) talks about how little advertising agencies are doing compared to major marketers to recruit new talent and train them once on board. It is unfortunate it did not mention the steps that the Institute of Communications and Advertising (ICA) is taking at the urging of its member agencies to address these issues.

An announcement of ICA’s university recruitment initiative on behalf of its members and the industry appeared in Strategy (Nov. 19/02). A website, www.mybigfuture.ca was launched to make university students aware of advertising as a career opportunity, followed by presentations made to four universities by agency CEOs on the career opportunities to be found in this area. Approximately 100 students attended each presentation, and our Web site receives approximately 100,000 hits per month. Plans for this year include rolling out the presentations to more schools in more locations right across the country.

So, while the industry realizes it needs to do more to make advertising attractive to university students, it was at the urging of our member agencies, as well as with their pro bono creative assistance, that this initial step has been taken.

As well, many of our member agencies use the certification and professional development programs offered by ICA to provide ongoing training to their employees. The Communications and Advertising Accredited Professional (CAAP) program has been offered in Toronto for more than 40 years and consistently graduates between 40 and 60 students annually. CAAP is now also offered in many other locations across the country, including British Columbia, Alberta, Ottawa/Montreal, and Atlantic Canada. For employees in the business about five years, ICA offers its Certified Campaign Planning Program (CCPP), a week-long course at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., which annually draws delegates from agencies right across Canada.

ICA also offers training in the areas of broadcast commercial and print production, as well as seminars and introductory programs. All programs are supported by advertising agencies which want to ensure that their employees receive ongoing training and development.

So while agencies and their CEOs might be the first to acknowledge that they still have a way to go in being able to match their client counterparts in terms of recruitment and training, they are being proactive and effective in utilizing the resources they have to address these issues.

Janice Schenk

Director of Education, ICA

Toront, Ont.