Pay more to solve talent crisis says AA and Tesco’s Bellini

Sometimes stating the bleedin’ obvious is unequivocally the right thing to do and Tesco chief customer officer and Advertising Association president Alessandra Bellini (below) did just that at the Media 360 conference, saying: “salaries in the industry (have lagged) inflation and economic growth over the past decade.”

Bellini, who’s set up a Talent Task Force for the AA, went on: “There is a shortage of talent in the industry, but there’s so much potential for growth, from truly representing and connecting the people of this country and creating growth for brands.

“We wanted to make sure we understood the reasons and (so) we set up a strategy to tackle the challenges.”

Other reasons cited for the brain drain (or brain shortage) were diversity and increasing skill requirements.

Any business that depends for its existence on knowing more about a range of subjects than its clients and being, generally, cleverer is hardly likely to prosper unless it can pay top dollar to attract and retain talented people. Our old friends in the legal profession (some young lawyers in London are now starting on £125,000) and finance routinely do this.

When this happens it’s amazing how issues like diversity (currently obsessing the agency sector) and increased skill requirements fade somewhat as most people just get on with it.

For this to happen clients need to pay more for their agencies (as Ms Bellini in her other life doubtless knows, although Tesco is usually regarded as a pretty good client.)

Agencies, though, could share the spoils more equitably. The big holding companies concentrate their pay greedily at the top levels while they’re far too ready to cull the underpaid serfs when business departs or the macroeconomic picture turns nasty.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.

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