66.7 F
Los Angeles
Thursday, Feb 2, 2023

Ad Agencies Scrambling to Hire Specialists

After five years in the doldrums, L.A. advertising and marketing agencies are again on the lookout for new talent, reflecting confidence in the growth of advertising, and Hollywood-related product placements in particular.

The turnaround most noticeable in mid-level positions paying $50,000 to $100,000 a year has agencies scrambling to hire specialists in brand tie-ins, Internet marketing and Hispanic advertising.

While there are no precise numbers on local hiring practices, a recent national survey by The Creative Group, a Menlo Park temporary staffing firm, found that two-thirds of the agencies in the West plan to enlarge staffs in the next year, while only 3 percent plan to trim payrolls.

“The industry as a whole is really at a place where hiring is off the charts,” said Amy Hoover, executive vice president of Talent Zoo Inc., an Atlanta-based job-placement company for advertising, marketing and communications firms that serves the Los Angeles market. “In the past six months, we’re approaching numbers that are approaching the dot-com levels.”

In fact, some of those casualties of that era are the ones advertising agencies are looking to lure back. With the Internet maturing into a viable advertising medium, many firms are attempting to add employees who are savvy about marketing to online users.

Trying to hook former dot-comers is not the only challenge facing L.A. agencies. Many say there’s a shortage of people with experience across several different media platforms, an important qualification in an era of media fragmentation.

“We’re expanding here and trying to identify people with broader marketing experience,” said Adam Goldman, the human-resources director of the TBWAChiatDay office in Los Angeles. “A lot of the good candidates are already working.”

Collaborating, competing

With 500 employees, TBWAChiatDay, owned by Omnicom Group Inc., is the largest advertising firm in L.A. The local office has 40 open positions, about half from attrition and the other half due to expansion. Most are in TEQUILA, a division of TBWAChiatDay that specializes in interactive advertising.

“We’re looking for people who have a varied media background: broadcast, print, interactive, promotions,” Goldman said. “Clients are looking for more out of our agency than just TV and radio. They really want a fully integrated approach.”

Online ad spending is expected to grow 3.4 percent this year to $145 billion, according to TNS Media Intelligence, prompting demand for advertising executives with strong Internet backgrounds.

Firms that specialize in advertising to Hispanic audiences also are growing at a rapid clip. Alex L & #243;pez Negrete, president of the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies, said competition for qualified advertising and marketing workers is more intense than it has been in the 20 years he has been in business.

Bigger growth is expected to come from a category known as “branded entertainment,” which generally refers to product placements in movies, television shows and video games, as well as more sophisticated product tie-ins and sponsorships of programs. That includes Coca-Cola Inc.’s relationship with the popular Fox television program “American Idol.”

The field even has its own moniker: “Madison and Vine,” linking New York and Hollywood.

Jesse Farran, The Creative Group’s Southern California account manager, said many of the local agencies are looking for people who intrinsically understand how to weave advertising into people’s everyday lives not just create 30-second ads.

Technological innovations such as digital video recorders that allow people to skip traditional ads are fueling the move toward more sophisticated approaches.

“Product placement has been in demand for a number of years with the advent of the DVR,” Farran said. “With the opportunities we have out here in the entertainment industry, people with those types of skills are really in demand.”

While agencies compete vigorously for accounts, and some even raid each others’ workforces, a group of L.A. firms has opted for a more collaborative approach in hiring. The Los Angeles Association of H.R. Professionals includes eight local advertising and marketing agencies that share information on staffing, although not for larger offices like TBWAChiatDay.

“Though the agencies are pitted up against one another, we see the well-being of the entire industry as being of paramount importance,” said Lark Baskerville, senior vice president of human resources of Rubin Postaer & Associates in Santa Monica and a founding member of the association.

Baskerville said her own firm, anchored by long-standing accounts with American Honda Motor Co. Inc. and its Acura division, hasn’t done much hiring. But she said the market in Los Angeles is more fluid than it has been in years. “There definitely is more activity: more turnover, more new openings, more movement,” Baskerville said.


Featured Articles


Related Articles