AAA School’s tri­umph

Plenty of tal­ent but not enough money

Finweek English Edition - - ADVERTISING&MARKETING -

THE AAA SCHOOL of Ad­ver­tis­ing’s Jo­han­nes­burg cam­pus put in a dom­i­nat­ing per­for­mance in stu­dent ad­ver­tis­ing awards last year, win­ning al­most half of all points dished out. It was, says the school’s prin­ci­pal, Ludi Koeke­moer, “our best year ever. We just had some bril­liant stu­dents with bril­liant con­cepts and my staff helped them to de­velop ideas so beau­ti­fully. Our Cape Town cam­pus is usu­ally stronger but this year Jo­han­nes­burg was top. Some­times you get a much bet­ter cal­i­bre than usual.”

There are only two big awards events for stu­dents in South Africa: the stu­dent Lo­eries and the Stu­dent Pen­dor­ings (Afrikaans). Un­til re­cently most of the en­tries came from the AAA School, Vega Brand Com­mu­ni­ca­tions School and Red & Yel­low, com­mer­cial schools that are less aca­dem­i­cally in­clined than the uni­ver­si­ties. Uni­ver­sity en­tries were the ex­cep­tion.

Then they sud­denly woke up to the fact they could en­ter and that awards were a short-cut to em­ploy­ment. This year there were 380 en­tries. There are around 15 in­sti­tu­tions that reg­u­larly en­ter for these awards, in­clud­ing Jo­han­nes­burg, Stel­len­bosch, Pre­to­ria, North-West, Tsh­wane and Nel­son Man­dela uni­ver­si­ties. North-West Uni­ver­sity has emerged as a sur­pris­ing cen­tre of ad­ver­tis­ing cre­ativ­ity. Sec­ond place put it ahead of such es­tab­lished ad­ver­tis­ing schools as Vega and Red & Yel­low.

Other re­cent ex­am­ples of youth­ful tal­ent were FoxP2’s art di­rec­tor, Rei­jer van der Vlugt, who won the Young Cre­ative Award af­ter tak­ing a gold and two sil­ver Lo­eries and two bronze Lions at the Cannes Fes­ti­val last year.

Also in the spot­light has been Rory Wel­ge­moed and Leon Kotze, who won a Cannes Gold Lion last year, their first year in ad­ver­tis­ing.

But if there’s so much stu­dent ac­tiv­ity why do ad agen­cies com­plain so vig­or­ously about the short­age of tal­ent? Koeke­moer tracks stu­dents’ job his­tory af­ter grad­u­at­ing and re­ports that over 20 years 87% of AAA grad­u­ates have gone into ad­ver­tis­ing and mar­ket­ing. But in cur­rent tough con­di­tions it hasn’t been easy to find work. “Agen­cies are lay­ing off staff, so young­sters can’t get per­ma­nent po­si­tions. Of­ten they go in as in­terns on low salaries or even for noth­ing in or­der to gain ex­pe­ri­ence and prove them­selves.

“Two years ago most of them had jobs by the time they grad­u­ated. That’s no longer the case.”

De­spite em­pow­er­ment, there’s still a short­age of blacks in ad­ver­tis­ing. At the AAA School only 40% of its grad­u­ates are black. At Vega, Red & Yel­low and most uni­ver­si­ties the fig­ure is more like 10% to 20%.

Ad agen­cies have an­other prob­lem that didn’t ex­ist 10 years ago: salaries. Mar­gins are much tighter than they were and salaries have con­se­quently suf­fered. Be­cause de­mand for black staff is high while sup­ply is short, they quickly get lured out of agen­cies into bet­ter paid po­si­tions with their clients.

“One of our stu­dent grad­u­ates had two job of­fers,” says Koeke­moer. “One was from an ad agency, of­fer­ing R5 500/month. The other was from a client com­pany. Its of­fer? R20 000.”

For the stu­dent it’s a no-brainer. For ad agen­cies it’s a dis­as­ter.

tonyk@fin­week.co.za

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.