STARTUP WEEKEND: Craig Mawdsley: “Ad recruitment needs a rethink”

Craig Mawdsley is the Chief Strategic Officer at Abbott Mead Vickers, and a judge at Startup Weekend London, which is challenging teams to come up with new startup business in just 54 hours. It takes place at Google Campus from 12-14 July.


“What problems could innovation resolve? The ad industry has been very good at hoovering up technology from all over the place to improve the fortunes of our clients, but rather less good at using it to improve our own fortunes.

But there is one area of our business that is stubbornly resistant to the march of technology, but remains the most pivotal to the future of our industry: the recruitment and development of our talent.

Advertising’s walled garden

The ad industry recruits from a ludicrously narrow base and remains one of the toughest to get into. Even after all these years, it is resolutely white and upper middle class. We hire people who have done the job before, to guard against the risk of new people failing to succeed from day one.

Jobs are handed out in a way that is mysterious and arcane to those who don’t have friends or family in the industry. And we pay recruitment consultants five figure sums to introduce us to someone who works in the building next door.

Of course, LinkedIn is an option, but for the ad industry that’s like trying to find a goldfish in the Atlantic. How can we innovate to connect the right people up with the right agencies, whether they’re getting into the industry for the first time or looking to move agencies?

How can we reduce the friction inherent in moving agencies, and get to the point where as many people as possible are working at an agency that suits them and makes the most of their talents? There must be some exciting opportunities here.

And then, once we have the right people, how can we innovate to make them better?

Talent recruitment revolution

There is a revolution going on in learning globally, with internet learning tools taking courses from major universities and making them available to students all over the world, irrespective of time zone and geography. Whereas our industry is still stuck in a paradigm where training is often a luxury, and often delivered in ways that have not changed for decades.

What does the broader online learning revolution mean for us and how can innovation help us make our people better, faster?

Startups that could help us with these issues would go to the very core of the value that we produce for clients. At a management level, we are doing little to address changing this most important issue, and some outside innovation could be very welcome.”

Find out more about Startup Weekend here (new window).

Read more from Campaign’s Startup Weekend: Creatives Edition blog, here

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