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A Modest Proposal: Agency-Supported Ad Schools
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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"Now Enrolling: The Saatchi School of Advertising.
Apply Today!"

We remember faintly that there is an advertising school in New York (we think it's this one) that survives by having advertising courses taught by actual advertising professionals, and the courses include material needed by actual clients. The grades are based solely on the work you perform. We think this is the way creatives should be nurtured, and how current creatives could fine-tune their craft. But we want to take this idea one step further.

We have been highlighting the plight of finding creativity. Agencies want better, increasingly streamlined talent, and are yelling at academia to churn out young pros whom they can hire. We have a better idea. Why rely on the academic ranks when you can just do it yourself? Holding companies and the huge agencies they own have been raking in very nice profits. Put your money where your mouth is and do something about the problem: if there is a "lack of talent," then build a platform where you can attract, teach, train, mentor, and hire talent that you created.

"The OmniCom School of Communications."

Why not? If holding companies can own shops across communications disciplines, what is keeping them from diving into the advertising education realm? This is not only a way we can solve the talent crisis, but we can mold the future of advertising. AdLand itself will be dictating how the future will look. Brilliant. Not to mention, it could be an additional stream of revenue for the agencies and holding companies.

Your move, shareholders.

Think about it: you can start attracting the young AdLand hopefuls starting at 16 years of age by offering apprenticeships and summer schools to build credit and start a portfolio. By the time these creative wannabes graduate, they can start shopping the ad schools/agencies to pick which school has the best professors/creative directors and curriculum/client roster.

"The W+K Ad School looks good, but BFG 9000 offers a Little Caesar's account seminar."

Shops can use the ad school tuition part as a testing ground for new compensation measures. Think of it like a pay-for-performance internship program. They enroll at the school for a certain amount of time, and based on their progression, they pay or get paid a determined amount. This proposal isn't the place for specifics, but the idea is out there.

Although this proposal is mainly catered to high-school graduates, this should be applicable to everyone interested in jumping into advertising, young or old. These new schools can offer different tracks as well, from the account side or the creative side. Administrative and operations versus creative and graphic design. 

As crazy as you may think this idea is, we do not. As the speed of business gets faster, and the gap between what agencies need and the kind of talent college ad schools are producing widens, don't be shocked if a version of this pops up. Or, if agencies and holding companies are content with complaining that there's no talent out there and refuse to put their own skin in the game to change it, they can just shut up and deal with it.


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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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