Training for that creative spark in life

In your leader “Nurturing the creative urge” (MW February 7), you said, “professional advisers have built a formidable panoply of competitive examinations around them” whereas advertising has “low, permeable barriers to entry”.

You are correct, but with one glaring exception – most creative people have spent a minimum of four years in higher education, learning the skills to develop their creativity and apply it to commercial communication.

They not only gain a qualification, but can also present any prospective employer with extensive and concrete proof of their talent and professional application (their portfolio).

At college in the Seventies, as well as being taught to create ad campaigns, my fellow students and I had first to immerse ourselves in the product attributes, the consumer’s mindset and the client’s hopes and dreams for the meeting of the two. We then recommended a strategic approach and wrote the creative brief. (Ever since I’ve found it strange when creative people are excluded from this process.)

When I left college, there were ten times as many graduates as jobs available – no matter how good you were, it was tough. (Through my contacts in education, I can tell you the standard of graphics/advertising graduates is now many times higher and the opportunities for employment many times lower.)

In short, the barriers to entry for creative people are anything but “low” and “permeable”.

The general lack of respect for the advertising industry has a great deal to do with – to use your words – “the smug management consultant” types, who are attracted to the perceived glamour and fashion-conscious expense-account lifestyle – without any discernible skill, talent or commitment to the quality of the industry’s output.

Oh that we could create barriers to keep these people out. They do us so much harm and are an eternal embarrassment. (Have you ever felt for a client when some superficial agency individual spouts off at a meeting with transparent disregard for the client’s best and long-term interests – but with great regard for his own “performance” at said meeting? (Yup, me too.)

Just like the minority of football fans with hooligan tendencies, who do a disproportionate amount of damage to a great sport, our industry’s too-often-visible minority reinforces all the bad things about advertising in clients’ (and the public’s) minds.

Could this be why more clients seem to be interested in dealing direct with creative people?

Tony Muranka

Independent creative director

Richmond

Surrey

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