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Photography by Susan Ni BreenIncreasingly agencies are turning to other professions and industries to recruit staff as they begin to realise the potential a diverse workforce can bring to solving clients’ problems, writes Clara Traynor.

“So as it turns out, we’re not all ‘advertisers’. Shhh, don’t tell the boss. Oh wait, he did what before this?!”

More and more people working in agencies come from a wide set of backgrounds and experiences other than advertising. And, while it might sound a bit counter intuitive, this lack of advertising experience is actually a good thing – in fact it’s a must-have in any self-respecting agency today.

There’s no doubt that the significance placed on growing and maintaining diversity within agencies is ever-increasing. But what can agencies do to increase heterogeneity? Last year the Filip Nilsson Scholarship was set up by Forsman and Bodensfors specifically to add diversity to their agenda. Admittedly, when I first read how “This Ad Agency is Hiring but You Can’t be an Advertiser”, it seemed a little gimmicky. However, this Swedish agency’s three-month scholarship has put in place a long term ongoing initiative to broaden the background and experience of its team.

So why is diversity becoming increasingly crucial to agencies? Well, for starters, it increases the creative ammo of an agency by providing a greater variety of solutions. It brings new talents and experiences which offer up new ideas. This is especially essential in a working environment where the clients, as well as their needs, are vast and ever changing. Diversity can give an agency an edge in providing better services on a global basis. Working with people from a diverse set of backgrounds provides us with a larger set of viewpoints and consequently more creative connections can be made.

By spending time with a group of people with a new set of experiences we each benefit from listening to one another’s perspectives because we start to recognise that each of us are different from one another. This recognition provides us with a shared determination to work harder in diverse environments; creatively and socially.

Degree collection (photography by me)
Degree collection, Clara Traynor

On a personal development level, it’s been found that the more unique experiences you have the greater your creative agility will be. This agility isn’t just an asset but a requirement to survive and thrive to produce truly cut through messages. Consumers can smell a rat a mile away – their senses have been heightened, perhaps from the ever increasing number of messages they have become exposed to. A message that is genuine, that comes from a unique experience, delivers more meaningful results.

It’s a fair statement that our thoughts are shaped by our daily experiences, but if we are looking in the same places or at the same types of people, our thoughts being to stagnate.

Schopenhauer looked to the East; much of his philosophy was deeply influenced by Buddhism. He considered that ‘every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world.’

New experiences not only help to create genuine messages but research has shown that they can, in fact slow down our internal time clocks because our brains process these much slower. So time to throw out the anti-aging serums and start throwing ourselves into a new adventure or two.

Teaser shot of my first Capsule Collection (photography by me)
Teaser shot of first Capsule Collection by Clara Traynor

If everyone is armed with the same creative weapons, it’s going to be pretty hard to win the battle. When an agency is made up of an eclectic group of individuals and not just ‘ad men and women’ those people have the power to produce something far more valuable for clients than you can ever learn from your standard marketing textbook.

Although, many of us advertisers may have diverse sets of unique experiences which collectively provide us with a greater skillset to deliver an original message, we also share many similarities.

Some mightn’t perceive the role of a fashion designer and a copywriter as being closely linked. From my experience, there are many parallels between the two – both are consumer centric industries that require an understanding of target markets, keeping to date with new technologies and place paramount importance in the development of a craft.

This crossover from fashion as turned me into a hybrid, the good kind – the Jeff Goldblum kind that possess extra human strength and can climb walls, but (thankfully) hasn’t crossed over into full-fledged flying insect territory yet.

Coming from fashion doesn’t make me special, as I find myself sitting among the ex-solicitors, comedians and product designers, to list a few. At Guns or Knives, we believe that creative hybrids produce great work. And, the proof is for you to be the judge of.

Clara Traynor – Fashion Designer/Copywriter at Guns or Knives

In association with the APMCapmc-bgw1

First published in Irish Marketing Journal (IMJ Dec/Jan Issue 2017)© to order back issues please call 016611660