The global advertising agency Draftfcb, recognized for its marketing research and award-winning advertising campaigns, is expanding to improve its digital offerings.
The firm, which has won awards for its health care advertising and campaigns for Kraft Food's Oreo, Yum Brands' Taco Bell and Electronic Arts' Mass Effect games, is looking for new hires to enhance how its employees use social media, mobile platforms and other digital tools.
Draftfcb, based in Chicago and New York, traces its roots back to 1873, with the founding of the Lord & Thomas agency in Chicago. Several mergers and acquisitions later, Draftfcb has become a staple brand of the advertising holding giant Interpublic Group.
The agency's global chief talent officer, Cindy Augustine, came on board in November 2011, after overseeing human resources at Scholastic, Time Warner and the New York Times. Since Augustine joined the agency, Draftfcb has fortified its leadership in New York, San Francisco and Asia. "We feel good about the new leadership teams in our organization," she said. "The question now is how do we create teams under them that will bring out the best in everybody?"
That requires fresh talent to join those who have been at the agency for years. Draftfcb, which employs 9,300 people around the world, is looking to hire 70 people for its Chicago office, 30 for people for its San Francisco office, and 120 people for its New York office.
FINS spoke with Augustine about what she looks for in digital and social media experience and what stands out in a potential hire.
Damian Ghigliotty: What has been your main focus since you joined Draftfcb?
Cindy Augustine: My main focus has been helping develop our core capabilities at the agency by building up our creative, account management, media and strategic planning teams. As part of that process we have been adding development and training opportunities for our employees, including digital training.
DG: What does the digital training involve?
CA: For the past few years groups of our staff have gone to a program called Hyper Island, which gives them an overview of the digital landscape as it exists today -- that landscape is clearly different than it was even two years ago. The goal of the training is to make sure we are thinking about digital in the right way for all of our clients. For our staff it reinforces what a lot of them already know and allows them to think about using digital tools in the latest and most savvy ways.
We are also developing our in-house training. In 2011 we acquired the digital advertising agency Blue Barracuda, based in London. They're infusing their digital learning throughout the organization. It's important to have both in-house and outside training to stay on the cutting edge.
DG: What kinds of digital skills are most necessary?
CA: We definitely focus on analytics and analytic tools. We also want to make sure that our employees are creating digital communities for our clients, whether those communities are through Facebook, Pinterest or our clients' websites. The digital world right now is a constant state of learning, so what matters most is that people remain curious and are always exploring the latest mediums and platforms. Today it's this, tomorrow it's going to be something else, so I want to know that our employees are thinking about what it will be tomorrow.
DG: When it comes to a potential new hire, how do you gauge a person's digital experience and aptitude?
CA: It often depends on what that person's area of discipline is, but generally we want to see that a potential hire can talk about campaigns he or she has worked on utilizing social media or particular applications. It's helpful when people talk about integrating those digital components into the entire campaign as opposed to just tacking them on at the end. We want to see that people know how to use the Internet in a way that entices others enough to get them interested in a product.
DG: Are digital and social media experience a must-have for new hires?
CA: Absolutely. It's relevant for pretty much any area of our company these days. The Web and mobile have become a large part of the way we communicate with consumers. Our employees have to be on top of that for our clients' sakes. For the generations that are coming into the workforce or the generations that are fairly new to the workforce, there's not as much of a learning curve for them. Most of them grew up with the Internet and they understand it, so it's a lot easier to work with them on that level. For the people who have been in the workforce for 10 or 20 years and have not been exposed to all of the digital changes, it can present a challenge. Those are the ones who often need ground-up training.
DG: How does Draftfcb recruit new talent?
CA: We have particular people assigned to hiring new talent across our various offices. We almost always do the recruiting ourselves, with our HR and aligned management teams working together. We don't frequently use executive search or contingency search, unless we are looking for talent at a very high level and are having trouble identifying people in the marketplace. In most cases we have in-house recruiters who go to industry events and college campuses. They source people who they want to target and talk to, and when a job comes up that we believe they might be a good fit for, we start reaching out to them
The advertising industry is one where there is a lot of movement, so it's always important to have new people coming into the organization and seeing what they have to offer.
DG: What are some of the companies and schools you look to attract talent from?
CA: We look at people who are doing innovative things at other creative agencies, such as Crispin Porter + Bogusky and Goodby, Silverstein & Partners. We also look to hire people for internships and entry-level positions from Miami Ad School, Savannah College of Art and Design and VCU Brandcenter, among other colleges and graduate programs. Whether or not someone came from an Ivy League school doesn't mean much to me. It never really has.
DG: What are the best ways for someone who's not on your radar to land a job at Draftfcb?
CA: Most of our jobs are posted online, so people can submit their resumes and cover letters electronically. For those looking to get in touch with us, we're no different from most other companies when it comes to networking. If you know someone at the agency, it's always helpful to put your resume in that way if that person can vouch for you. Networking always has a place, but only if it's real. If you just met a Draftfcb employee at a cocktail party and said hello, we're not going to be able to ascertain anything more about you than if we had seen you through our site. Likewise, if someone reaches out to me on LinkedIn, I am going to ask our shared connection how well they know that person and who that person is.
DG: What grabs your attention when it comes to first impressions?
CA: If someone is applying for a creative position, one of the first things we notice is what people do to make their resumes look unique. It's important to have something distinctive in the way you present your information if you are in that field. We want to know how that person thinks about design and what his or her eye for composition is like. We also want to see a portfolio of work.
On the account management side, we look for people who can show that they are extremely relationship-driven and also business savvy -- people who are naturally problem solvers.
On the media planning side, we look for people who can show their understanding of all the different channels out there -- not just television or print. The channels are almost endless these days, so it's important to show us that you have used analytics in smart ways before.
On the strategic planning side, which has become such a core component of advertising, it's about showing us your level of insight. We have something here we call "the holy shit number." One of those bits of information that's going to make people say, "Wow, I did not know that!"
DG: What makes somebody stand out in an interview?
CA: Showing that they know how to work well in teams. Being able to work collaboratively is hugely important. I can't even imagine a workforce today where that's not the case, but it's especially important here. We have creative rumbles at Draftfcb where people from different offices and different functions come up with as many ideas as they can to determine the best campaign strategy for a particular client. We're not a diva culture and there aren't any gurus here. We don't want people who are such stars that they don't how to work with other people. When we interview people for positions, we will always ask for examples of when they were part of a team, whether or not it worked well and what they contributed.
Also, if someone is coming from an agency that has had bumps -- and every single agency at some point in its history will have bumps -- we want to know when that candidate was there and how they viewed it. If they were there during a down period, did they view it as an opportunity to transform the agency? Those are the kinds of people we want.
Write to Damian Ghigliotty at Damian.Ghigliotty@dowjones.com