With hunting for the freshest new talent and out-of-the-box thinkers a constant industry battle, should advertising agencies follow the lead of football clubs who scout raw talent and grow them in their talent division until they are ready to join the premier league? Inspired by this approach, Wieden+Kennedy Amsterdam does exactly this each year - inviting seven bright young minds from around the world to join their creative incubator program ‘The Kennedys’.
With the fifth year of The Kennedys having started last week, 35% of participants remaining at the agency, and other previous Kennedys going on to become world class artists and directors, the approach is definitely working for this Amsterdam creative agency.
The Kennedys program, started in 2011 by long-time W+K Amsterdam Creative Director Alvaro Sotomayor, sees the agency able to nurture and grow diverse talent within it’s own walls for seven-months each year. During that period the multidisciplinary Kennedys get to experience working in the advertising industry and demonstrate how their creative talents could work in the agency’s structure. Working as a ‘shop-in-shop’ each class of The Kennedys works at W+K Amsterdam on real assignments for new and existing clients and produce real work, overseen by Sotomayor and co-director and producer Judd Caraway.
Since the start of the program five years ago W+K Amsterdam has added eight Kennedys to its roster; three art directors, two copywriters, two designers, a creative technologist and a filmmaker. All who still remain with the agency today and who have each already created award-winning work since they joined. Some of the other Kennedys now include a director at Park Pictures, copywriters at AKQA Amsterdam and Paris, a UX-designer at Digitas Italy, a writer at KesselsKramer, a director at Caviar/L-A-D-A, a flame artist at Glassworks and up-and-coming graffiti artist (Cara To).
Caraway says: “The creative experiment also known as The Kennedys has not only been a great way to welcome more diverse creative talents into our office and create new and fresh energy, but also help young talent step further into their own creative futures.“
Last week marks the start of the 5th year of the program, with this year’s ‘class’ including a journalist, a digital art director, a visual designer, a copywriter and a graphic artist, all creative thinkers hailing from the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Poland and Venezuela.
On this year’s new class, Sotomayor says: “We are so excited to welcome more wild animals into our zoo. Their creative plumage and oddities will bring color to the amazing opportunities we have lined up for them and we can’t wait to see what they create between now and the end of the year.”
Blake Harrop, W+K Amsterdam Managing Director, says: “We are extremely proud of the team behind this creative experiment. It’s encouraging that with youth unemployment at its highest in a generation, we’ve found a way to give chances to young talent. We’re also proud to be doing this in Amsterdam, a city with an incredible history of social innovation.”
Last year’s Kennedys, amongst other projects, directed Leo Messi in EA Sports’ Christmas spot and created a global campaign for Child Helpline International to help child helplines around the world get more funding to answer every call they receive. A reel of all The Kennedys work from 2011-2014 can be viewed on Vimeo.view more - Hires, Wins & Business