LONDON (AdAge.com) -- Integrated-marketing agency Iris has launched a recruitment initiative called The Bunker, including a commitment to be the London agency for the Miami Ad School's Greenhouse program, which allows students to get real-world experience in shops around the world.
The Bunker launched this week with nine students from the Miami Ad School, but is already making plans to expand beyond this remit. Iris is using its Greenhouse status as a springboard to create a 10-week intensive training scheme for creative people from around the world.
Sean Reynolds, Iris' New York-based global creative director, traveled to London to attend Bunker's launch. "We wanted to build something that's relevant for today's market and expose students to all disciplines over the 10 weeks," he said. "We've not taken this lightly; it's taken us six months to get this up and running. We see The Bunker as a creative test facility where you can experiment and don't have to worry about the rules of reality."
A recruitment drive for the next batch of global creative talent has already begun, targeting major colleges and using creative social-networking sites as well as a dedicated website. Bunker is looking for people from a wide spectrum of backgrounds, such as fashion designers, art directors, writers, interior designers and illustrators, to apply for a spot.
Bunker also welcomes non-students, but it will not be paying participants beyond paying travel expenses to and from work, unless a client takes up one of their ideas, in which case a reward scheme will be worked out.
Iris will offer up a mix of real client briefs and enterprise projects for students to work on. "We have Sony Ericsson coming in next week to set them a challenge of making film content on their new handset," Mr. Reynolds said. "We're also looking for ideas for an Adidas shop."
Eventually the plan is to expand Bunker beyond London into Iris offices in Australia and Asia. Bunker's name refers to the Iris London office's status as a bombproof building that used to house power generators for the U.K. government.
"This will give students a head start and let them know what they are letting themselves in for," Mr. Reynolds said. "Each student is assigned to one of three mentors, and the mentors are enjoying every part of it. It adds another element to their day."
Grant Hunter, creative director of Iris London, said in a statement: "Graduate intake is down across the industry, and those looking to gain essential experience are really struggling to get placements. The Bunker initiative offers an opportunity to kick-start careers by exposing new talent to a diverse range of skills, disciplines and client accounts. We'll look to experiment with new models and new ideas to keep perspectives colliding and innovation a constant. We want our placements to walk away with books that will help them break into the industry."
Since its inception in 2001, the Greenhouse program has enabled students to work with a variety of shops around the globe, from Ogilvy, Paris, and Saatchi & Saatchi, London, to Crispin Porter & Bogusky, Boulder, Colo., and R/GA, New York. Iris has replaced Saatchi & Saatchi as the London Greenhouse agency for the Miami Ad School.