ANA: Ad-Marketing Recruitment System Strained 'To A Breaking Point'

For years, the industry has talked about the challenges of hiring top young talent to join its ranks. Now, the ANA Educational Foundation has completed an in-depth report on the industry’s job pool and recruitment efforts.

It found what it calls “a looming marketing and advertising talent crisis.” 

The report says the crisis is driven “in large measure by a lack of common vision, vocabulary and perceived relevance among marketers, young professionals and the schools that are expected to educate them.” 

More specifically, the report cited the digital transformation for altering and enhancing post-graduate career paths, as well as the fact marketers and advertisers now compete directly with technology companies for top talent. 

According to the report, expectations are also different for today’s generation of young talent, which is more likely to seek “purpose” in their work and “fun” job environments established by the start-up culture. 



The report also states that college and university programs are not keeping pace with the rapid changes in the industry. “Course work and textbooks are out of date almost as soon as they’re published, and much that is taught about marketing and communications is outdated and unrelated to management expectations and students’ actual experience in the field.” 

The report concludes that marketers and agencies need to “partner with educators to inspire and prepare the next generation of marketing and advertising leaders.” By doing so, the ANA and the Foundation believe a “wider, more diverse and better prepared pool of talent” can be created to fuel industry growth. 

To that end, the ANA/AEF are establishing the “Pathways 2020” initiative. First steps include an effort by the AEF and the ANA to facilitate over 1,000 marketing and advertising executive campus visits by 2020.  

In addition, the groups are taking greater strides to engage college professors. The AEF is expanding its current “Visiting Professors” program to ensure at least 1,000 professors will have on-site industry experiences by 2020, including participation in ANA member conferences and committee meetings. 

AEF will also create formal “accredited” guidelines and best practices for internships to bring industry consistency in the identification, recruitment and training of students entering the marketing and advertising industry. 

“Finding and retaining talent has been a serious problem in our industry for some time,” stated ANA CEO Bob Liodice.  “But this pioneering new study has revealed that the system to create our next generation of marketing and advertising talent is strained to a breaking point.

"Immediate action is required, and the AEF has developed the necessary steps to address this critical issue by bridging the gap between the core constituents.” 

“Our next generation of talent will be the single most important driver of industry growth,” added AEF President-CEO Gord McLean.  “Marketers and agencies must take the lead, but we know from experience that whenever we get together with the academic community, the most important players – the students themselves – benefit.”




6 comments about "ANA: Ad-Marketing Recruitment System Strained 'To A Breaking Point' ".
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  1. Neil Ascher from The Midas Exchange, September 22, 2017 at 10:15 a.m.

    Perhaps the industry should start by re-evaluating the absurdly low starting salaries that we continue to pay. 

  2. Jim Meskauskas from Media Darwin, Inc., September 22, 2017 at 10:27 a.m.

    I know lots and lots of not-so-young talent that they could hire. Unfortunately, the advertising industry’s notorious cheapness and pervasive ageism combine to make for the perception of a talent crisis. This is a bed of it’s own making.

  3. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, September 22, 2017 at 11:04 a.m.

    Traditionally the large ad agencies have paid low starting wages  because they know that gaining entry to this dynamic if often frustrating business is the key to future wealth for an ambitious person. This has, to a large extent, been true as I and many others can testify. Ad agencies, for all of their issues are great learning places if one has the sense to exploit that aspect. And once you are in, the transition to higher  levels in the agency as well as other opportunities---like media ad selling, network TV programming, setting up one's own shop, etc. etc.---await. If, on the other hand, the agencies see themselves as hiring and training their beginners so they will stay with the company most of their business lives---as is often the case with advertisers----then, by all means, they should pay more to start and treat their newbie hires like future investments. The problem is that ad agency newbies tend to jump ship in great numbers ----even if paid well---- as they seek more rapid advancement, so a large agency that goes this route---the pay well to start route-----may find itself in the position of a college or university that pays its students to attend, rather than the students paying by accepting modest salaries to get their careers started. So far, the agencies have chosen to pay less and accept high turnover rates and, frankly, I see some wisdom in this---even if it seems stupid to outsiders.

  4. Neil Ascher from The Midas Exchange replied, September 22, 2017 at 11:28 a.m.

    Ed, I get your point.  Back in the "olden days", when I got into the business as an Assistant Media Planner at a mid-sized, full service agency the "pay your dues" approach was effective.  You did whatever it took to move ahead, recognizing the payoff somewhere down the road.  Back then, even as an assistant, you had exposure to the full capabilities of an agency and if you were really good, exposure directly to clients.  Additionally, the social/entertainment aspect of the business made it fun to go to work.  I don't think that really exists any more, but perhaps it doesn't in any industry.  That said, if all I'm going to do is sit at a computer and do spreadsheets all day long, I might as well do it for an industry that pays more reasonable starting salaries.  I stayed at my first agency for 7 years, because I was always learning something new, doing interesting work and being fairly paid (after the inital starting salary).  Sadly, I think we don't offer any of that to today's newbies.  I think our starting salaries need to be more competitive if there is any hope of encouraging bright young people to join the business.

  5. Benny Radjasa from Armonix Digital, Inc., September 22, 2017 at 12:58 p.m.

    If the ad industry moves to Fort Wayne, Indiana or Montgomery, Alabama a city with one of the lowest cost of living or another similar city like Fort Wayne, perhaps.  NY City has one of highest cost of living in the country. 

  6. James Patrick Schmidt from MindFire Communications replied, October 4, 2017 at 12:34 p.m.

    That doesn't sound right, Neil. I read somewhere that Millennials don't want money.

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