When I first starting out as a junior copywriter I went along to the D&AD workshops that were being held in various London ad agencies. These evenings were great for anyone who wanted to start out as a copywriter or art director because you could bring your ideas along and have them reviewed by a top creative director. These evening gave students a real flavor of what the job was like and what creative directors were looking for. In those days it was attended by about twenty of so people -mostly kids in our late teens or early twenties. These nights were really useful and I used to come away having learnt something beneficial.
On quite a few of occasions at these workshops a woman would join us and sit in with the students. She was a bit older than the students and rather than bring any work along, she just sat there listening while the CD explain what was right and what was wrong about the ideas being presented. This lady, I found out later, worked in recruitment. In fact she was a well-known advertising headhunter. At first we assumed she was checking out the young talent – but over the weeks we realised that she was not that interested about us lot. She had a far bigger agenda. She wanted to find out exactly what it was that CD’s were looking for and understand what makes a great ad.
This lady’s name was Canna Kendal and in the next 20 years she would run the most successful recruitment company in the creative industry. She picked up all the top briefs and she made all the big appointments. Every creative wanted to show her their work and every creative director wanted her to work on their recruitment. We all trusted her opinions because she cared about the work and she cared about getting it right.
Can you imagine somebody in recruitment doing that today? I seriously doubt it. In fact one or two recruiters that I’ve spoken to over the years have not even asked to see my work. I doubt they wouldn’t be able to recognise a good ad if they saw it. They ain’t interested. Which, if you ask me, is doing our industry a disservice. These days the recruiter adds very little but charges a small fortune. They don’t want to speak to you on the phone. Don’t want to meet. In fact one recruiter got me a job without he or I ever having met.
People today who service the creative industry could learn quite a lot from Canna Kendal.