‘Mental health is not a competing issue, it is a connecting thread’
At the Alliance of Independent Agencies’ Festival of Happiness the NABS team share findings from All Ears
Brixton Finishing School alumni share learnings from starting out
In a world where there is no shortage of crisis for consumers, be it the cost-of-living, the climate crisis or geo-political crisis, for the advertising industry there is the additional burden of a crisis of talent. For without the right, diverse, fresh talent, it is impossible to connect and communicate with consumers through such turbulent times.
Such talent is out there and the onus must be on the industry to make a conscious effort to attract and retain it. As Brixton Finishing School alumni, Pilar Eslava Saucedo, explains: “A diverse team can bring a range of unique skill sets, and experiences to the table, leading to more innovative solutions. All this would not only benefit the industry, but also our society.”
This next generation of talent has the opportunity to make a societal impact and create work that redefines industry standards. In order to help talent realise their potential, creating working environments in which they feel welcome and can thrive is essential. For this talent has the chance to usher in a new era of inclusivity, one that shuns the notion of pulling up the ladder behind them and instead works toward creating a culture of inclusivity. To support the industry in this pursuit of creativity, we asked Brixton Finishing School alumni to share their fresh perspectives.
Meet Pilar, a multidisciplinary designer based in London.
With a background in Illustration and Graphic Design, she has managed to establish herself as a full-time creative designer. In 2020, Pilar was selected as part of the BFS cohort, where she learnt about advertising and marketing. Since then, she has been working full-time as a designer, crafting bespoke websites, custom typefaces, digital products, and brand identities for a wide range of clients.
Inclusiveness would bring a much-needed fresher perspective to the advertising and marketing industry.Pilar Eslava Saucedo
My advice to those who are just starting out would be to send that email, apply for that job, and go to that networking event. Staying persisting and building resilience is what will ultimately keep you sane. There is also no better time to start acknowledging and dealing with your weaknesses than early in your career. In my case, my main obstacle to breaking into the industry was my fear of not being good enough and I wish I would have been less afraid to take on projects and accept jobs that I thought I was unqualified for. Big spoiler, I wasn't. Sometimes you are your worst enemy.
One thing that could be improved in the industry is the diversity and representation of voices in the creative process. Inclusiveness would bring a much-needed fresher perspective to the advertising and marketing industry and result in the creation of campaigns that truly resonate with our target audience. It would also help to address existing blind spots or biases, leading to campaigns that celebrate diversity and challenge stereotypes.
Moreover, a diverse team can bring a range of unique skill sets, and experiences to the table, leading to more innovative solutions. All this would not only benefit the industry, but also our society.
My dream client would be one that values creativity and is willing to take risks to create something unique.
In terms of a dream brief, I would love to work on projects that challenge me to think outside the box and have a positive impact.
For example, I'd love to create something as playful and meaningful as WWF just* - Packaging designed to eliminate packaging. Created by the Leo Burnett agency for WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature), the campaign aims to replace plastic packaging with natural solutions.
At its core, it is about inspiring a change in mindset and making a real difference for the planet in an elegantly simple way.
My time at Brixton Finishing School was my first contact with the advertising industry. I came out of it knowing what to expect from the industry and ready to become part of a team. It also provided me with projects that enriched my portfolio and mentors who taught me some of the most valuable lessons I have ever learnt. The hands-on experience and collaborative environment at BFS taught me the importance of hard work, teamwork, and adaptability.
The most important lesson I learned at Brixton Finishing School was the value of good communication and collaboration with clients, team members, and other stakeholders. As a designer, I was too precious about my ideas, but the beauty of idea generation is that you can always come up with something even better. At BFS, I learnt that a truly successful project often requires input and feedback from multiple parties, and being able to effectively communicate my ideas and listen to others' perspectives has been crucial in my work since then.
Meet Keda, a multidisciplinary creative, tiktok enthusiast, terrible skater and half decent artist. She graduated Brixton Finishing School in 2020.
It’s thinking outside the box, trying unexpected methods, and then coming up with a solution that “just makes sense”.Keda Bamber
I was always the kid that knew exactly what I wanted to do growing up, and for most of my life I was leaning towards science and maths based careers, but then suddenly took a hard pivot at 17 and applied for an Advertising degree (I don't think my mum has ever recovered from this decision)
I knew I loved Advertising for the same reasons I enjoyed science and maths; it's getting paid to come up with a creative solution to the problem, it’s thinking outside the box, trying unexpected methods, and then coming up with a solution that “just makes sense”.
Passion and Talent are nothing without hard work and drive. The students I attended Brixton Finishing School with were (and still are) the most driven group of young people I have ever met. Before my time at Brixton, I knew I wanted to work as a creative but my teammates helped me see I needed a larger plan. They helped me create a portfolio of work, network with industry professionals, keep those relationships, and work on self-fulfilling projects that help avoid burnout and keep you in a creatively open headspace.
I would love to work more with the skate scene. I grew up surrounded by skate culture and skate brands, with my brother being a semi pro skater with a few local sponsorships by the time we were in our early teens. I was always the more “creative” and less “coordinated” kid but big brands like Element, Vans and Santa Cruz absolutely dominated that time of my life (and still make up most of my wardrobe). It would be awesome to be able to pull on that culture and those experiences for a brief.
Channel 4 has always been a stand-out for me. I distinctly remember their “Gay Mountain'' spot for the Russian winter Olympics in 2014 and their original campaign for the series “Humans” where they briefly had me convinced we had reached an age you could get an AI helper for your home (which now that we have Alexas and the like, isn't too far from the truth). Their work is always pushing boundaries and playful, so much of it creates a sense of joy and amazement. Inclusion and diversity have always been a necessity rather than a preference for them, and they are quite often leading the conversation.
It seems like everywhere you turn there is a new programme that promises to help young people break in, but they are still so often inaccessible to the large majority of young people. Many of these schemes are still unpaid, and it feels like they are only happening in London, so if you are from anywhere else in the UK you’ve got no shot.
I almost saw the world of media through rose-tinted glasses during BFS, but entering the industry made me realise that more can be done to create diverse and inclusive workforcesFreena Tailor
Brixton Finishing School exposed me to the range of broad and niche roles available in the media industry, so it has given me a sense of security within the industry because if one day I decide to switch it up, I know there will be a role for me within the world of media.
Not really. Although I am proud of my journey into media, I do think uni wasn’t for me because I only attended as I had no idea what else to do – now ya girl is in debt! I strongly believe spreading awareness of the schemes, the media industry and skill sets required for jobs in media could save a student the time and money invested into uni, because alternatively they could start their career sooner and develop much more on the job.
Yes! During my time at Brixton Finishing School they did prepare students for difficult situations in the workplace by providing a personal coach to build our resilience and inviting guest speakers who shared shocking stories about the industry. However, it’s very different when you enter the industry and experience or observe things yourself.
I almost saw the world of media through rose-tinted glasses during BFS, but entering the industry made me realise that more can be done to create diverse and inclusive workforces and it solidified my understanding of why courses like Brixton Finishing School exist. Learning this has motivated me to enforce our involvement with these initiatives across our internal workforce, like our rotational scheme NXT Gen Nation. This exclusive rotational placement is where my career started at Mail Metro Media and I have played a role in developing the programme every year since, which has been a great success so far!
My passion will always be advocating diversity and inclusion initiatives. A focus I have shifted towards recently is championing young talent in the industry.
I believe one of the reasons why I have developed so much since entering the industry 3 years ago is down to my pro-activeness and my managers who prioritise my development, are approachable and push me out of my comfort zone.
The industry should be putting more time and focus on the development of entry-level talent who could potentially be the future of the business. Young talent are not there to just do the admin, they are enthusiastic about their career and they are the generation that knows their worth! If the industry wants to retain junior talent then give them opportunities to develop, create a workforce where they can see people like them in senior roles, hire managers that champion progression, offer flexibility and re-consider their salaries (cost of living is out here!).
N E T W O R K ! Networking and maintaining industry relationships is my advice. Slide into those LinkedIn DM’s, try to approach experts at industry events and be proactive on keeping those connections alive! Never forget that industry experts want to learn from new talent just as much as you want to learn from them.
At the Alliance of Independent Agencies’ Festival of Happiness the NABS team share findings from All Ears
The 10 Group’s Elaine Murphy and Annabelle Lane discuss the opportunities of royal tie-ups as the final season of The Crown is released
As part of The World’s Neighbourhood Hotel campaign, the IHG brand is building on its community roots
The campaign created by Publicis agencies for the mental health charity asks, ‘Ever feel like the world is closing in on you?’