Advertising

The more people I meet in the industry the more I realise that agencies like w+k, 72, anomaly, bbdo, droga and BBH just circle jerk and hire people only from each other. It feels like...

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A killer book will get you in. Award-worthy work is as valuable as awarded, especially at your level. In fact, a great writer with a great attitude at a reasonable salary is new hire gold. Sometimes the award winners get cocky, and that works against them.

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I guess all of the creatives who are a part of the agency exodus to client side and media platforms got tired of trying to prove their genius to agencies. This industry is just like high school--there are cliques. Getting into the upper echelon usually revolves around status--awards, press, notoriety, connections. The book is important, but so are those other factors. The chances of getting your good book in front of a hiring manager without making somewhat of a name for yourself is slim to none. And that's just the first hill. The second hill is getting placed on projects that matter, if you get hired. It's easy to say it's a merit based system, but there's a reason things like 3% and Adcolor exist--way too many people have experienced a nepotistic system. The best advice to give to someone is raw advice--getting hired requires an attractive package that points to that person being a good business investment, if someone isn't ushering them in as a favor.

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Look you start somewhere, anywhere, and work your way up. Get better, refine your skills and move to better jobs and better shops. People at Droga come from all over but they have one thing in common: they are very, very good at what they do by the time they walk in the door.

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Good ad school = ins with good recruiters. That leads to good projects while you’re a junior. That leads to other jobs at other good agencies. The system has been running that way for 20 years. Your road is much harder if you don’t pay for ad school. Just a cold hard reality and a partial explanation for the lack of diversity

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likeupliftinghelpful
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Well...not wrong but...also known as hiring people who have done similar work...have proven track records...worked with someone who vouches for them...have an impressive resume... I mean I get what youre saying, its a Catch 22, but it makes its own kind of sense right?

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OP I disagree. A good book is a good book. These agencies aren’t idiots, they can see and recognize smart thinking regardless of awards. With all do respect, maybe your book is lacking? If so, focus on improving it. Do side projects. Be proactive and use your book to show off what you have to offer. And once it’s looking good, resubmit.

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I feel like we work in 2 different industries...or you're a White male and have privilege blinders on. I've met white men at every shop I've worked at who were unqualified by the job description and had a connection. With the amount of traumatic stories on Fishbowl, and considering the race/gender breakdown of this industry, a scientific guess would point at many more floating around. Portfolios are subjective and it's easier to deem one as amazing when its author is like its reader. It's easier to find a reader at one of these shops if you're like the majority of them. Connections stretch beyond this industry. If we're saying that this is a solely a merit based hiring system we would be lying to ourselves. I say all of that to say, i worked at an AdAge/Adweek multi- #1 agency. I got in because of my connections and my book was decent.

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Right, but you’re acting as if talent is the only part of “making it”, when, even by your own admission, your classmates who ended up at great shops worked and networked like hell. It’s not like agencies choose who gets into this “circle” arbitrarily, it’s usually those with the strongest work. And those people had grit, determination and talent and networked. What are you arguing in favor of, exactly? Everyone knows “talent is everywhere but opportunity is not”-that’s true of every industry- that’s why the smartest people I went to ad school know that with worked their butts off. But that’s a fact of life, not a flaw in the industry. Are you saying opportunity should be everywhere? And acting as if those who broke through are either just lucky or slimy for doing common sense stuff, like networking? Also think you’re misdiagnosing the problem. It’s unlikely agencies are only looking at books from those five shops, far more likely that the people at those shops are the only ones with work that passes muster to get hired at the other ones. If they squinted to see the potential in every so-so book, it wouldn’t work. Saatchi isn’t a hot shop, but I guarantee the “It’s a Tide ad” team got poached.

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CCO1 nailed it. Also, I think awards are getting more and more marginalized, and are going to become less important to hiring, so if there’s any glass half-full here, maybe it’s this. I think it will all be about how you fit into their budget, what kind of attitude and positivity you might bring to the agency, and of course talent. Whether or not that talent has been recognized in France. If it has, great. But speaking as someone who has a voice in hiring from time to time, I don’t really care about awards. I want someone to have done super original, problem-solving, ideally hilarious or poignant work that I have seen, and I am jealous of. And yes I have won awards so don’t @ me with the “only those who haven’t won, say they don’t care about awards.” But to OP I say that any type of agency should not be obsessed with award winners anymore. I think that’s at least where the industry is going. Hang in there (cue cat poster visual).

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likesmarthelpful
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I know folks who are at two of those shops. They hire folks without awards, but without a coveted award on your resumé you have no leverage. I've worked at a similar shop when it "ran the world". Coming in without an award was an uphill battle. They demoted many people when hiring them [mid to jr, sr to mid] and said while they're work was good, they didn't feel it was on their level. The same thing happened to my contact at said shop^^^. Who you know definitely plays a part. Hit the scene and make genuine friends. If you get a offer and it comes with strings like a demotion, make sure you ask what their strategy for your development is.

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Nobody on this thread is going to be convinced that it’s about the work, because to be convinced would mean admitting their books aren’t up to par. I stand by my continued statement to keep pushing to improve your work and keep banging on the doors when your book looks a lot better than the last time you knocked. Keep doing that and eventually the door will open. It is above all about THE WORK. Ok, I’m done here.

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Sir/ Ma'am... it's the work and other things [the stuff folks mentioned]. The circle jerk starts before you ever apply to a top tier shop and never ends.

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You are wrong. But it’s very hard to hire and know if someone is actually what they say they are. So it’s natural to look at things like past experience, accolades and companies they worked at. These agencies are essentially in the same competition set so it would also make sense that the creatives would stay in this pool so they are with agencies that share their creative aspirations. It’s really not a conspiracy. Regardless I hope you land at the agency you want and fulfill your potential.

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likeuplifting
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Oh for sure...connections matter a ton. Always will. But no one, save the lucky few, start out with connections...you earn them via hard/good work and attitude, ie being someone that others in power want to be “nepotistic” for:

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Cd 4 - firstly, they're not my classmates. My schooling days are loooong gone sadly. They are classmates of a friend. But yes hard to get a point across without context I suppose but in a nutshell. I don't think opportunity should be thrown willy nilly but opportunity shouldn't be exclusive. This random topic popped in my head because I am currently responsible for hiring some mid creatives for my account but all I keep coming across are people from these agencies that someone knows of or someone who was recommended by someone else. And I hated that because I felt they were given privilege because of where they worked or who they knew. It sickened me because when I related it to myself. I think at one point in time. This could've been my opportunity but I just never got the chance because everyone was just circle jerking each other. It starts with work. Idgaf how much you network. How much I notice or like you depends on your work. Once I believe in your ability to bring it then I'll consider you as a person. Not the other way around. In fact, if I get the impression that you're where you are because you knew how to kiss ass or suck the right dick then I'm even less likely to acknowledge you. I just want to be the kind of person I needed when I was trying to crack into one of these places. I don't care if you worked for lubars or Droga or whoever. You will get in line like everybody else. If you think you're good then you'll have no problem applying like everyone else and standing out on your damn self.

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But is it a certain pedigree or a certain quality of work? I’m guessing it’s the latter. Also, totally get the instinct to help people break in OP, but I guarantee your friends are recommending people because those people are talented and dependable, not just out of some sense of loyalty. No one’s hiring talent just because they worked at a specific place, they’re hiring the people who did great work at those places. No one’s poaching the creative who worked at Droga but didn’t do great work there. You’re acting as if other places DON’T make those choices based on quality of work. There’s a lot less cronyism than you’re imagining.

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Of course agencies hire people who went to ad school. Of course networking helps, and of course people who work at elite firms bounce around to other elite firms. That’s not some heinous conspiracy, that’s just common sense. Think about it, OP, the only ways to evaluate a candidate are their book and reputation. People at better agencies tend to have stronger books because they’ve been at those agencies. People who go to ad school and network tend to start at better agencies. Everyone in this thread seems shocked and appalled that a high-paying, no-college-degree-required, highly subjective, talent-based industry actually has barriers to entry. Of course it does. But that’s not nepotism or cronyism or evidence of some sinister plot. It’d be like getting bent out of shape that law firms hire people who went to law school. If you’re upset that big agencies aren’t constantly hiring people who don’t have strong books, haven’t reached out to them, and don’t have people to vouch for them, you’re being unreasonable.

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Tbh I think it’s all about talent and perseverance. I am from Miami Ad School and I have seen both things: a classmate is now at the Kennedys in W+K and has a lot of awards. The art director that used to work with her is at 72andSunny and she only has a D&AD. They are both perseverant and they are goal focused, they knew what they wanted and they went for it. None of them had previous connections. The Kennedys has it’s own system but the one at 72 sent them tons of emails and contacted with everyone she could in LinkedIn. So I completely disagree with OP. Work hard pays off and the people that hires at these agencies looks at potential and passion. At least that’s what I’ve experienced with the offices in Europe.

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CD 2 - you make a great point. However, it's near impossible to show your worth beyond said expectations without even getting a chance to meet these people. They are notoriously harsh and will not entertain you unless they choose to come after you it seems

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It’s not just these agencies but I’ve seen it in my State as well. Student graduates from ad school, gets foot in door at Agency that supports said ad school, does a year there then manages to work at three other agencies you bust your ass to work at. It kills when you see their book too and you know your work is better. I suppose those who hire think, "Oh man! You worked at The Martin Agency? Come do that Geico work for us” when in fact the person probably only touched the Land O’ Lakes account.

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So...you didn’t go to Brandcenter ?

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☝️ So what you’re saying is both of those people went to elite portfolio schools and made great connections as a student ? I think you’re proving OP’s point. No one says they didn’t work hard, but they had an in from the beginning.

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