As I've said so often before; advertising is the only industry where people think you don't have to be educated for it. We expect people in all other industries to have an education in the craft that they master, including other creative arts. Famous actors often spent years at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, The Pasadena Playhouse, or The American Academy of Dramatic Arts, and so on. Even Marilyn Monroe who launched herself into Hollywood largely based on her sex appeal learned method acting at the Actors Studio, run by Lee Strasberg.
But advertising? At every agency I have ever worked the "fun" idea of bringing in someone from a completely different creative industry and lobbying them into the creative department like a hand grenade to 'shake things up' and disrupt everything, expecting this to energize us and become more creative. Slam poets, clowns, street artists, and acrobats all get to play with live briefs without even a hint of formal advertising education.
This idea, that fails more often than not, is usually pushed by the tradepress.
So, here we go again. Adage has a piece on hiring creative talent, written by Betsy Jemas and Andrew Carlson from Organic who are suggesting strategies for finding new recruits as portfolio schools shut down, proposing that one should find talent on TikTok and brief them.
Delete the job descriptions requiring four-year degrees or internships. Lean into internet presence and look at those already creating as opposed to those positioned to.
Marc Lewis, dean of the school of communication arts, goes off on a rant about this pinpointing exactly why agency training fails over portfolio schools:
In house agencies are exclusive. They are often run by strong-willed leaders who believe that their agency’s secret sauce is the way they designed their strategy pyramid or the way they promise a new twist on purposefulness.
They are monocultures.
Education should broaden the mind. It’s what schools do. Agencies are built to control the mind. It’s what they do.
I'll just add that I've seen this before. It didn't work when it was the street artists, slam poets, or actual clowns that were hired into the ad agency world either. Creativity can be expressed in thousands of ways, in craft, and in performing arts. People have creative talent, or they don't, but just being blessed with talent alone doesn't mean you can't hone it and get better. But for some reason, creativity in advertising is the only one that doesn't need a formal education.
I can vouch for working with an actual clown. That happened to me at a certain agency that would throw a bunch of people into the mix to see what would happen. 7 out of 10 times what would happen is the clown would lose his job.
The more concerning aspect here is that once again advertising will become homogenized, this time in favor of jittery edited no concept creative that follows the same playbook.
He’s quite right. Advertising creatives solve complex business problems and follow a brief. TikTokers copy.
I'm a bit saddened that the reaction to a school closing isn't "the ad industry should pool our resources and chip in so that an independent advertising school can exist again."