RADS struggle through bad economic climate

This year’s entries to the Recruitment Advertising Awards reflect the tough
time the economy has endured.  Penny

The economic climate has had agencies holding their breath and recruiters
zipping up their wallets for the past year.

And the patchy economy has been reflected in the shortlist for the
Recruitment Advertising Awards (RADS), designed to showcase excellence in
recruitment, marketing and communications. This year, it has attracted more
than 600 entries.

John Langford, chairman of recruitment advertising agency TCS, and of the
15-strong judging team, said: "It’s been a hard year. Many of this year’s
best campaigns are still sitting as concepts on cardboard in ad agencies,
because employers just don’t have the money to go ahead with them yet. The
mediocrity we saw in some entries could be a reflection of this year’s
budgetary constraints. Some categories proved a real struggle."

However, there is brighter news ahead. Langford said he believed recruitment
advertising would increase by about 10 per cent in 2004. "The big question
is, what is going to drive growth and demand over the next few years?"

He predicted the telecoms sector should bounce back from the brink, bringing
with it job opportunities. "Even if it over-committed itself [in the
past], it still has energy. Brands will develop and grow."

Meanwhile, judge Manda Crowder, managing director of AND Advertising,
predicted retail’s strength would continue to hold out, while the hospitality
and leisure industries would boost employment, despite vulnerability to world
events, such as terrorist attacks. "These are all high staff turnover
industries, and they will expand," she said.

Fellow judge Neil Griffiths, creative director of Bernard Hodes, agreed
there were early signs of recruitment advertising budgets loosening. "More
clients are now asking for project work – employer branding and recruitment
across a range of media," he said. "The private sector has started to
come alive, not least telecoms."

Still, judges agreed, the recruitment advertising entries displayed a
distinct "lack of employer risk". Ads were either really good, or
massively bad, with the gulf between them wider than it had ever been.
"Good ideas, but the creative execution didn’t do them justice," said
Sue Redden, research director at recruitment agency Thirty Three.
"Innovation was missing, and too many missed good opportunities,"
said Jane Robson, director of Courtenay HR.

Martin Tiplady, HR director, Metropolitan Police Service said many of the
ads were going nowhere and had become complacent.

"I don’t think this is a sign of a depressed market," he said.
"What it illustrates is that it is becoming harder to distinguish between
one advertising agency and another. When you buy into an ad agency [as an
employer/ recruiter], you buy into their ideas. Yet I don’t think we’re getting
the full benefit of their knowledge.

"Also, it shows employers are now looking towards other forms of
recruitment advertising that are not necessarily paper-based, such as the web.
And finally, it shows a market crying out for something different – recruitment
agencies offering something different. It needs a breath of fresh air."

RADS winners will be announced at a gala dinner on 15 January 2004 at the
Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane, London.

For tickets call Mike White on 020 8652 3100 or Christine Jones on 020
8652 3849.


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