Adweek reported on the advertising industry trend toward hiring top-level executives from the U.K. and Europe, apparently signaling a shortage of qualified White men in the U.S. The Adweek story included the following:
Depending on your point of view, it’s either coincidence or symptomatic of a high-level shortage in U.S. talent. (Look further up the pecking order and one finds that global CEOs at agencies like BBDO, Ogilvy, Draftfcb and Saatchi & Saatchi didn’t climb the New York corporate ladder either.) In the past, Madison Avenue headquarters have been criticized for their often inbred, American-centric view of the world, given the country’s historical hegemony in marketing communications. That accusation holds less power today.
It’s small wonder that the U.K. has emerged as the country of choice in recruiting top talent, given Britons’ career travels and global interests, born of empire. The former mother country has long enjoyed a reputation for towering creative skills in effective cross-discipline solutions, given smaller marketer budgets. Meanwhile, advertising still carries some glamour as a career option across the pond while U.S. media technology companies poach talent that otherwise would have gravitated toward agencies.
More generally, though, the shift reflects the changing orbit of the marketing world. “Working internationally, you get the experience of managing multiple cultures and multiple personalities in different markets, which gives you some international overlay and broader skill sets,” says Jay Haines, CEO of British headhunters Grace Blue, which opened in New York last year. “It’s not so much a reflection of a lack of talent in New York. It’s about having a more global mind-set.”
Whatever. It’s not at all surprising for an industry that routinely recruits people with a certain look and gender to ultimately raid the motherland. When seeking minority talent, the “solutions” involve visiting inner-city grade schools and/or educating candidates via special training. Reeling in White talent, however, requires heading overseas to Buckingham Palace. Imagine that.