MIAMI – When it rains it pours, and the advertising world is not immune to being drenched with pressing issues, ranging from keeping its young talent not only diverse but also happy to regaining trust with its brand marketer clients.
And so it was as the industry’s dominant trade organization, the American Association of Advertising Agencies, gathered for its annual Transformation conference. Vexing subjects like transparency in agencies’ financial dealings with media vendors and combatting fraud in digital advertising would have been enough without the added headlines—generated on the eve of Transformation—of a discrimination lawsuit brought by a female senior-level communications executive against the venerable J. Walter Thompson agency.
In an interview with Beet.TV during the conference, 4A’s President and CEO Nancy Hill cites two new initiatives aimed at bolstering agencies on the personnel front, as human resources is increasingly pressed to step up its recruitment and retention game.
“HR has become much more of a strategic tool for agencies, because talent is such an important part of what we do,” Hill says. “That’s all we do is talent.”
Advertising and media agencies have been waging a thus-far losing battle with tech companies like Apple, Facebook and Google to recruit and retain young people, as The New York Times reports.
In response, the 4A’s has launched an online education certificate program in conjunction with its counterpart in the United Kingdom, the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, for individuals with less than a year’s experience in advertising, marketing or communications. And it recently partnered with data company Quantcast to offer customized training 4A’s media agency members as part of Quantcast’s ongoing Real-Time Advertising (RTA) Academy program.
Looking out 12 months, Hill hopes the industry will have “made a crack in some of the diversity issues” and that “we have started to rebuild the trust between clients and agencies and that we’ve done it in a way that feels real.”