Aurora Magazine

Promoting excellence in advertising

The Millenial pitch

Published in Nov-Dec 2016
How to pitch your agency to a Millennial.

In an industry where pitching is akin to breathing, be it for new business or new ideas to existing clients, we seem to have left out an entire avenue or ‘pitch-base’... future industry professionals. It may sound funny or even a tad incredulous… pitch for talent? But think about it. When we look to grow as agencies we step out into the world and go after what we want. It is no longer an era where work always comes to us – in the same way it is no longer the case where talent will always come knocking on your door, especially when it comes to the mind-boggling ‘Millennials’.

I say mind boggling because it seems they have a rare and elusive quality that often evades those generations that came before. Raised on a diet of Facebook, Snapchat, Tweeted news stories, Coke Studio and Twilight, this is a generation that came of age in the current millennium, graduated from college and began joining the workforce well into the teens. This is a generation for whom a tablet is not what you take for a headache, a book isn’t necessarily made of paper and who may never have seen an airline ‘ticket’!

We are in the business of selling ideas and reinventing ourselves to remain relevant, yet very little attention has ever been paid to selling this madly intoxicating industry. We may well have reinvented the way we work to keep up with a changing era, but have we reinvented the way we present ourselves to the outside world? Or even relooked at what skills and talent we, as an industry, need to continue evolving, innovating and remaining relevant? Have we re-evaluated what it means to be an advertising professional today? And then ‘tweeted’ about it?


They are in many ways the ‘bring-it-on’ generation. Very little fazes them and if they believe in a ‘cause’ they will fight for it. So why not let them fight for ideas?


The truth is… we haven’t really! For an industry that communicates for a living, we have left a massive communication gap in our conversation with the prospective next generation of industry professionals. We often don’t realise that our prospective talent base is still for the most part, living in academia, no matter which aspect – be it the creatively ‘hip’ environment of an art school, a strategic business programme, a linguistic or sociology degree or even a law student… or they have just begun to enter the workforce unaware that our industry is even an option!

Unlike our clients, creative partners and other industry professionals who work with us, and are aware of the innovation taking place or the strategic direction in which today’s industry is headed, these young people are not networked in, and in the absence of communication from us, are for the most part unaware of the current opportunities available to them within the advertising world. The relevance of their skill set, and indeed even the relevance of so-called ‘traditional’ advertising in today’s digital era, has left question marks for many Millennials.

The Millennial mindset is, in fact, quite suited to an industry like ours; they are passionate, go after what they believe in, are not afraid to experiment and are open to challenges. They are in many ways the ‘bring-it-on’ generation. Very little fazes them and if they believe in a ‘cause’ they will fight for it. So why not let them fight for ideas?

But it’s a competitive world out there – so just like we fight for the businesses we want to win, we need to fight for the talent we want to win!

How? By engaging them through a process of inspirational pitches or ‘Pitch-pirations’! Designed to engage with Millennials in ways that allow them to understand and experience how their mindsets may make for great ad people today and in the future! To realise the relevance of their skills to the way the industry is moving, and showing them that today’s industry is also relevant to their lives!

What is different today versus even a decade ago? The way we need to think… to engage with savvy, digitised and highly clued-in audiences. We need to ‘imaginate’ beyond mediums and often beyond borders. We are not creating a single type of communication but rather a philosophy! To succeed, we need a generation of ‘thinkers’, those who can ideate, create and imagine or ‘imaginate’.


One way to inspire a creative mindset is by showing them the creativity beyond their own experience of art school or to challenge what a business graduate thinks as the perfect business plan by inspiring them with a colleague who learned from running an ‘imperfect’ business!


An advertising professional now needs to look beyond the obvious – and this is the ‘Pitch-piration’ we need to be imparting to our young industry hopefuls. What we need is diversity and an intrinsic passion for communication; an inherent drive to push, even break boundaries, to challenge, question and turn things on their head – this is the creativity one needs in the industry today.

And this can come from anywhere. So we need to step out of our comfort zones and show our future ad people that if we are saying our evolution as an industry has opened up new avenues for new ideas and skill sets then those ‘imaginaters’ can come from anywhere. Let’s start engaging with talent that goes beyond writers and art directors, let’s bring in their peers with technological degrees, from law schools and even budding psychologists.

One way to inspire a creative mindset is by showing them the creativity beyond their own experience of art school or to challenge what a business graduate thinks as the perfect business plan by inspiring them with a colleague who learned from running an ‘imperfect’ business!

Let them experience some of what we love so much. The fact that no two days are ever the same; that we interact with creative talent from disciplines across the realm of popular culture: writers, artists, photographers, gamers, bloggers – and also the often very real way in which we can impact a client’s business! Open up our agencies to young creative minds and inspire them through mentorship and an open-minded outlook to both the creative and business side of the industry!

Start conversations with them about what we do and the impact we can have on a client’s business… but remember for Millennials, chatting often means not talking! So find where they are and engage them in their own language.

We need to prove to them that our coolness did not die in the 60s when agencies were a hotbed of creativity! That today’s agency environment can be creatively rewarding and just by using the language that they already speak, be it gaming, app development, a new linguistic shorthand or a hip new visual iconography!

Amber Rauf is Director Strategic Planning and Corporate Communications, MullenLowe Rauf.
amber.rauf@mullenlowerauf.com

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