The Hallway’s Chris Murphy on the extent of the industry’s inaccessibility for junior talent

The Hallway's Chris Murphy has observed the accessibility issue in ad land and is taking steps to try and address it. After launching YouTube series, 'Shit. What Now?', Murphy chats to Mumbrella's Zoe Wilkinson about how challenges facing junior talent and recruitment extends beyond just creative to all disciplines in the industry.

There is no simple fix to bridging the gap between the agencies and the junior talent trying to find their way in. It will take action from many.

One person taking action is The Hallway’s Chris Murphy, who has started YouTube series ‘Shit. What Now’ to demonstrate to talent the breadth of opportunities available in advertising and showcase industry leaders’ opinions on what makes a candidate successful on the path in.

“I thought there needs to really be a resource out there for people within the industry to provide an insight into what it’s actually like to work in the industry and provide practical tips for that,” Murphy recalls.

“Then for a while, I brewed over. It was only until we were looking to hire more junior people and I started interviewing people and seeing them run into the same traps that I’d run into, and I go ‘this needs to happen right now’.”

The flow of creatives into the industry is just a drop in the bucket of a wider problem, Murphy says. And while AWARD School has been a successful program for drawing in creatives from all walks of life, pathways into practices beyond copywriting and art directing are not obvious.

“We’re not getting other professionals within advertising disciplines come through necessarily. We tend to find we’re getting other people that at a very young age come in because they love creativity and what have you, and then eventually find their feet and decide that they might prefer strategy and they might prefer account management or production but I don’t think people should have to come in and then find their way,” Murphy observes.

“The whole point of ‘Shit. What Now’ is to really broadcast and celebrate all the different facets of our industry and say, ‘look there is a choice here’. Just because you’re really good at managing people and selling and negotiating clients and being very diplomatic, [doesn’t mean] there’s no place for you in advertising.”

One issue raised in my conversations with creatives and industry leaders is that the necessity to have a connection within an agency to leverage in getting a job or undertake an unpaid internship, is reducing diversity and creating an elitist culture. By utilising industry voices to discuss pathways into varying roles across the industry, Murphy is hoping to make the industry appear more accessible.

“It’s such a necessity for our industry to bridge both our own industry, but then also the talent pool of smart young people that are potentially missing. We do a great job of selling our clients’ brands, we do a great job of selling our own brands to clients, but we never really sell the industry to people,” Murphy says.

“We need producers, we need developers, we need suits, we need planners. So it’s really about, insularly-wise for the industry, making sure that we’re future-proofing ourselves and having the right people from all walks of life to come in.”

Chris Murphy

So far Murphy has spoken to Dentsu X’s UK CEO Beth Freedman; Paul Warwick, the director of NICE Thinking Strategy; CHE Proximity Melbourne creative director Dom Megna; talent acquisition specialist Kelly McGrath, and a number of juniors including duo Daniel Li and Mitch Taylor – who spoke to Mumbrella about the challenges facing junior creatives in the industry.

By showcasing the range of opportunities available, Murphy is also addressing a growing trend in the industry of talent being trained in disciplines other than marketing and communications.

For example, Publicis Groupe’s chief talent officer, Pauly Grant, observes through the last five years of the group’s internship programs “media agencies have seen a much bigger skew towards mass students” due to increasing emphasis on data and analysis. The creative and accounts internships, meanwhile, are still collecting people from advertising degrees, indicating advertising degrees are not evolving with the direction of the industry. And it doesn’t stop there, as engineers in software and data are becoming crucial hires in the ad land as well.

“A lot of students don’t realise that there are separate agencies that can be a separate thing altogether. Then you throw in things like digital agencies, UX agencies, all these different fragmentations it becomes quite overwhelming,” Murphy notes.

“You get media agencies that produce their own concept. You get creative agencies that have a media arm. So it’s kind of like really about finding what you want to go for, move forward from there. And I think again, that’s where we, as people in the industry, need to help people that are looking to break into the industry to communicate exactly what the different opportunities are across any agency.”

In addition, agencies’ search for the intersection between technology and creativity is placing them in greater competition with technology companies for talent. Murphy says for agencies to stand up to that competition, the industry needs to get better at communicating its purpose and how grads from different disciplines can apply their skills in advertising.

“How do we help lure students back? I think the answer is for the love of craft. And I really think it’s about a lot of people come to us for really, really well-crafted pieces of advertising or posters or print ads,” he says.

“But I think that’s what we offer over some of the massive companies that have just opened up their own [creative arm] because a lot of it tends to be high volume, templated work. Whereas what we offer is a truly, truly diverse way to work in many different industries within one industry.”


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