Robert Sawatzky
Apr 15, 2019

Talent jumping ship from agency to brand is not just about names and perks: Grace Blue

TOP OF THE CHARTS: Recruitment firm’s 2019 Migration Report argues work-life balance and meaningful work is what’s spurring the moves.

Talent jumping ship from agency to brand is not just about names and perks: Grace Blue

An Asia Pacific survey is giving us a better sense of what motivates agency marketing professionals to take their careers to in-house brand teams. 

Grace Blue’s 2019 Migration Report surveyed 319 senior marketers in Australia, China and Singapore.  Samples in Singapore (30%) and China (28%) had higher percentages of people with agency experience in their ranks than in Australia (21%).  But more importantly, there were many common reasons why agency creatives eventually shifted brand-side.

Especially for older, more seasoned talent, greater work-life balance and the opportunity to do more meaningful work looms large, the report says.

Testimonials from brand marketers like Apple, Coca-Cola, Vans and Netflix in the report cited reasons such as having more control, influence and understanding of the brand and its work.

“When we speak of agency talent jumping on the next ship to brandland, what we’re witnessing is not just the latest trend but an evolution in the career lifecycle of someone who has made creativity a profession,” writes Grace Blue director Sonia Voirol. “Senior creatives are looking for greater work-life balance and are more concerned with legacy, which a successful corporate role can provide.”

She added, “Talents who are concerned about career prospects and fulfilling financial commitments will likely prefer to continue their career with a well-known brand, if given the option, as the impression still prevails that agencies ‘borrow staff’ for their clients and once an account disappears, so do the jobs.”

Where does agency talent migrate to?

The report tracked a variety of consumer verticals where agency staff head towards, with media being an obvious favourite in all markets, but particularly in Australia, where 90% of media and telecoms hire senior marketers with agency experience. Retail followed a distant second in that market at 45%.

In China, 50% of the fashion brands surveyed hired ex-agency, while in Singapore the transport and travel companies led with 60%

How concerned should agencies be?

Grace Blue APAC CEO Jean-Michel Wu says the migration of agency talent has expedited over the past three years, “making informed recruitment strategies more important than ever.” While some anxiety at creative agencies is legitimate, the report noted, it’s also a misperception that the ad industry is “being run dry”.

“Agencies are still hotbeds of creativity,” Voirol notes, with more variety, diverse experience and new challenges. “Such an environment creates versatile, agile and robust creative minds that brands want but are yet to develop. Agencies are workplaces that attract great talent, but to retain a competitive edge over big-name brand employers, agency leadership must recognise that today’s creatives are playing for the long-term.”

See more Top of the Charts


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