Not in Advertising? No Problem, Says Wieden

Agency's London Office Seeks Talent From Outside Industry for Platform Project

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LONDON ( -- Wieden & Kennedy, London, is trawling the globe in search of the best undiscovered creative minds to take part in the launch of a new talent hub in September.

The project, called Platform, will offer 12 people with backgrounds in the arts, science and technology the opportunity to work in a dedicated department, solving Wieden client business problems as well as taking on clients of its own.

Staffers will be paid $400 a week for a minimum of six months and a maximum of nine months, with a third of their time dedicated to a structured training program.

The project's website,, is also a recruitment portal, where prospective candidates must solve a problem they encounter in everyday life and upload a video profile. Wieden is actively seeking people from all around the world, and successful applicants without a U.K. work visa will be able to join the team remotely via an open-source network.

"This is about evolving who we are as a business," said Sam Brookes, managing director of Platform and former head of client services at Wieden & Kennedy, London. "We have to do something different and experiment with different people, to breed people who have the potential to work across disciplines. This is very different from an internship; it's not about shadowing staff, photocopying or making tea. There will be real pressure briefs they have to crack."

Applications so far have come from 62 countries, many from recent college grads but also from people who are established in their fields of work, including an executive from MTV India and another from ITV in London.

Platform developed out of a previous scheme called W&Kside, which was low-key and London-based. It ran for three years and invited four people from outside the advertising industry to work alongside agency staff on client business problems.

No guarantee of a job
There are no guarantees of a job for Platform graduates, but the hope is that many will be able to find work around the network. "We are looking at a long-term talent pool," Ms. Brookes said. "It may be that their skills are too different from where we are today, but we might be able use them in two years' time."

One product designer who was part of the W&Kside team was employed 18 months after he finished the program. "He was brilliant, but we didn't have the briefs or opportunities for him at the time. So when we started getting wider briefs, we brought him back in," Ms. Brookes said.

Ms. Brookes said the W&Kside scheme showed that marketers are open to having unproved minds on their business. "They love the fact that we are experimenting. It's exciting for them -- they have nothing to lose and are getting added value. The people involved tend to be culturally curious, passionate and keen to prove themselves, which makes them very prolific."

The agency's Portland, Ore., office runs a very different style of training program, W&K12, which brings in 12 students to work at the agency for a year, but the trainees pay the agency fees to participate in the program.

Platform has secured the backing of a number of patrons including Jeremy Ettinghausen, head of digital at Penguin Books; Jeremy Myerson, director of innovation at the Royal College of Art; Bob Bobbera, a creative consultant at Nokia; Deep Kailey, fashion editor of Vogue India; and Frances Corner, head of the London College of Fashion.

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