The Great Reshuffle

Exclusive LIONS and LinkedIn data shared at Cannes Lions by LinkedIn CEO Ryan Roslansky highlighted the current talent picture in the industry. The advertising industry lost 5.5% more talent than it gained over the last five years. Meanwhile, the tech industry gained 23% more talent than it lost in the same period. As creative talent migrates to other industries, the need for next-level working cultures that rethink, reorganise and restate the value of creativity is clear. This year’s Festival explored new models for attracting and retaining talent.

In his talk 'Back to the Creative Future - the Fight for Great Talent' LinkedIn's CEO, Ryan Roslansky presented data to show the changing shape of the creative industry over the last five years.

Extreme reorganisation

It’s not enough to hire diverse talent; those team members need to be empowered to make creative decisions and drive innovation across the board. “There’s no point in having a room of people who look different if the ideas, voices and innovation are not. Let them be different by giving them space and room. Bring that difference to how you run your business and to the ideas that help fuel innovation that helps fuel the company,” points out Ukonwa Ojo, Former Global Chief Marketing Officer at Amazon Prime Video and Studios.

With diversity already a must-have, rethinking organisational structures – who is invited and how – can help usher in opportunities for creative talent to revolutionise culture and create inspiring work for the next generation to see the power of creativity. In 'Widen the Screen: The Program' by Grey New York for Procter & Gamble, which took home the Bronze Lion for Creative Business Transformation. By developing a platform that connects black creators with Procter & Gamble’s advertising, media and production partners, it engaged a new generation of black creative talent with opportunities to create systemic change and expand the representation of black culture on screen.

WIDEN THE SCREEN | PROCTOR & GAMBLE

GREY NEW YORK | 2022

It's these types of partnerships that help deliver inspiring, impactful work that attracts talent. The Pharma Lions Grand Prix-winning work 'I Will Always Be Me' by VMLY&R New York for Dell Technologies & Intel worked with the Motor Neurone Disease Association to create technology solutions for people living with the condition. Wayne Best from VMLY&R says: “This generation wants to work for a company that does good, and that's a key part of where they choose to work.”

“Big agencies have failed to realise that they are no longer the big magnets for talent they once were. Partly culture, partly pay – a ton of reasons. But partly I think they are very bad at bringing diverse talent in. They are no longer the destination. If you’re coming out as a fresh grad and you have an amazing creative brain do you say ‘That’s where I have to be?’ I don’t think you do anymore.

Jessica Spence President of Brands | Beam Suntory in the Kill Your Darlings Documentary

“ Involving everyone, no matter what level, in the big ideas can make sure that they believe in and can see and feel that a good idea can come from anywhere. That helps bring optimism.

Kim Raglan Head of Brand Experience | Colenso BBDO

Brand Experience & Activation Lions Juror

Move the dial on working policies

As Gen Z enters the workforce with new value systems, embedding forward-thinking working policies into agencies will help retention.

The pandemic taught us that flexibility in work is an expectation. But understanding how to push this forward can shift the dial, giving talent the fluidity to multi-hustle while delivering great creative work. “Creativity can take many forms, and the best agencies will always want to hire those who enjoy being creative. Now that creativity can come from anywhere, we need to keep talent in the industry. We need to keep asking questions about how we can do more,” says TikTokker and Head of Influence and Retail at FleishmanHillard, Robert Mayhew. With WGSN stating that 50 million people globally identify as creators, the talent pool is significant.

Andrea Bell, Vice President of Insight at WGSN, explains the macro drivers of consumption for Gen Z in her talk 'Split Personality - The Two Sides of Gen Z'

Ryan Roslansky, CEO, LinkedIn, said that Gen Z was the generation that shifted most before, during and after the pandemic. While all age groups hunkered down during the uncertainty, Gen Z was the first to emerge and change their careers. They were the most significant movers because they felt it was ok to move. He said motivating and inspiring this generation is the key to the ad industry's future.

Rethinking recruitment policies can also tap Gen Z's shifting values. In the talk 'Split Personality: The Two Sides of Gen Z’, WGSN’s VP of Insight Andrea Bell explored the notion of Gen Z as postmodern scholars. They are people who are happy to learn online - with 35% of GenZ saying they use TikTok to find new skills. But a degree is a prerequisite for access to the industry. To counter this, Neutrogena has sponsored an internship programme with LA creators to train young talent without a degree for a career in the beauty industry. And 'DojaCode' by Mojo Supermarket New York for Girls Who Code echoes the change in Gen Z learning behaviours with a push for girls to code in a Doja Cat music video. It won Gold in the Brand Experience & Activation Lions.

DOJACODE | GIRLS WHO CODE

MOJO SUPERMARKET NEW YORK | 2022

BRAND EXPERIENCE & ACTIVATION GOLD LION WINNER

“The social contract has shifted to where the power has moved to the people being hired,” states Kirk McDonald, CEO of Group M. Indeed, as a cohort that job-hop, Gen Z has shunned the established norms of long-term commitments to an organisation, looking instead to take control of their career. In the talk ‘It’s Not Job Hopping, It’s Up-Skilling’ Bozoma Saint-John, Hall of Fame Marketing Executive, Author, and Entrepreneur, BadAssBoz, echoes the sea-change around company commitment, predicting a future where talent is encouraged to do what is best for them, even if that means leaving an organisation. Indeed TBWA\Worldwide found that against the general population benchmark, creative talent is significantly less likely to be satisfied with their work/life balance (55% vs. 64%).

“The fluid landscape is so exciting and I see so many brands and collaborations diving into it. It’s not just thinking male or female. It’s about this fluid current that’s changing things.

Harris Reed ZEO | Edelman’s Gen Z Lab Speaking at Edelman's Cannes Lions 2022 talk 'Harris Reed - Fluidity is the Future of Creativity'

Make it measurable

Power is in the hands of talent. But there’s a dichotomy between offering talent creative and workplace freedom and ensuring organisations deliver on career progression, stability, flexibility and inclusivity. With a paradox at play, organisations need to toe the line between process and freedom.

TBWA\Worldwide busted myths around creative talent in a worldwide study shared with the Cannes Lions audience. Notably, 51% of creative talent are neutral/not sure about job applications, transfers and referral programs, while 55% of creatives strongly agree it’s important that their employers help them to discuss remuneration transparently.

The industry isn’t fostering career development well, but salary transparency and progression are valued highly. With an action gap existing, more needs to happen. But, with 19% of creative respondents also saying that training and development programmes make job satisfaction much worse, finding fun, seamless and resonant ways to ensure creative talent is effectively nurtured becomes challenging. Indeed one of the findings from the TBWA\Worldwide study stated that ‘Creativity cannot thrive without daily process and structure.’

“We have to be heat-seeking missiles for talent. There has to be a plan, and it has to be measured,”

Vicky Free Head of Global Marketing | Adidas Speaking at the Cannes Lions 2022 talk 'The Changemakers' in partnership with Euronews

Indeed, the importance of mechanisms was echoed throughout the Festival. Tommy Johnson, Chief Education Officer at Made with Black Culture, adds: “I don’t think DEI by its design was made to make progress. If we’re talking about business we already have metrics. KPIs that are entirely measured for. In DEI there are no measurements to track progress. If you can’t measure it, you really can’t track it.”

Speakers explored how measurements and mechanisms can work in practice. Droga5’s Crash Course initiative, launched during lockdown, aims to fill an osmosis gap formed when creatives stopped being in the same room as each other all the time. Every month a class gets delivered on the creative process to re-instil the natural process of talent learning from talent. “Hearing someone talk about their process is inspiring. It helps make your day-to-day job better,” says Scott Bell, Chief Creative Officer, Droga5 New York.

“Good intentions only take you so far but mechanisms take you much further. When building teams, mechanisms are important. Goal setting, check-ins, and feedback loops all work well. Then beyond the mechanisms, you have to give people room to innovate.”

Evaristus Mainsah VP People x Experience at Amazon AD

Speaking as part of Amazon's Cannes Lions 2022 Official Integrated Fringe Content programme in the talk 'Discovering the Next Generation of Creative Storytellers'

The talent crisis continues to pile pressure on agencies and brands to create the future of work their teams want to be a part of. Agile ecosystems, working policies that help talent flex their out-of-office creativity, and systems that strengthen career progression can help give the industry the refresh it deserves. Employers must be as transformative in their people strategies as they are in their creative visions.