Will Adland be forced to move to new lands to hire talent?
A recent report says that the West End is now one of the most expensive places to set up a business. Add to that the fact London has one of the most expensive travel costs, plus housing costs and you have to wonder how anyone can afford to live and work in London anymore.
For many grads, living at home is the only option, the trouble is, many parents moved out to the suburbs so now their off spring face massive travel costs to get into London. With many internships unpaid, it’s almost too expensive to take one just because of travel costs alone. Catch 22.
I have friends who have moved out of London and claim to have a better work life balance as well as a better bank balances.
Buying a flat may not be a high priority for a grad but sooner or later they will want to and London is just simply too expensive – you’ll need £100k just as a deposit. And even though there are some schemes to try and reduce the cost, most are fraught with conditions, catches or simply offering duff property.
If you want to own property, London isn’t the place to be. By contrast, my brother lives in Manchester, his house (the same size as mine) cost half the price. He earns about the same as my London wage, so has more disposable income, so gets to go on more holidays, eats out more and can afford the latest gadgets and a very nice car. So what is the attraction of London?
Despite claims that the current generation of grads are work shy, over expectant and job snobs – note Iain Duncan Smith’s comment about shelf stacking – like most of us, they will eventually want to settle down and have a family and a decent balance of work and life. It’s just human nature (not that at 25 you believe you’ll one day be mowing a suburban lawn, wearing slacks and a brown cardigan).
While adland may be stuck in London, digital is well spread across the UK, with Bristol being one of the hottest creative spots outside London. So already London is no longer the creative capital.
Be honest, outside of working for one of the few really creative companies, life outside the capital is probably a lot better. Let’s take a reality check here, most agencies bread and butter is in dull, uninspiring, knock it out and keep the client happy work – “churn & earn” – as it’s known. So why live on nothing in London when you can live outside?
And salaries are not always better in London either. Some people I know are now earning more outside as they are seen as a valuable resource.
We are yet to see how hard the economics of London life will effect the workplace, but I bet it will. And in time that might mean adland has to try harder to recruit new talent or face a hard fact that organisations like the BBC have had to face, it’s time to move out of London.
Already we’ve seen a talent drain to technology based creative industries such as gaming, where you can be very creative and well paid. Advertising isn’t top of a lot of creatives list any more. End of last year I attended a meeting with other industry creative directors to discuss how we can attract more talent.
If Mother, W&K, Fallon or Droga 5 set up in Manchester, Birmingham or Liverpool (all cities with great facilities and a great night life), I bet they’d have even more applicants than they do, because they’d still be doing great work, and you’d be able to live in a decent house, not in a small flat, and you could drive to work in a nice car, rather than spend 25% of you income on an overcrowded, dirty transport system.
Throughout history, economics, more so than social trends, has dictated change. So unless something radical happens, adland could soon find itself moving out to pastures new