Magazine article Marketing

News Analysis: Dearth of Talent

Magazine article Marketing

News Analysis: Dearth of Talent

Article excerpt

The downturn is creating recruitment challenges in several key sectors, writes Alex Brownsell.

With dwindling ad budgets and changing consumer behaviour, some sectors will undoubtedly find marketing recruitment a challenge.

The resignation last week of Katherine Whitton, British Airways' head of marketing communications, hardly came as a surprise, given the turmoil the airline is in. However, it poses the wider question of whether industry sectors such as aviation, which has been hit especially hard by the downturn, will struggle to retain talent.

Grant Duncan, former Publicis chief executive and now head of media practice at recruitment consultancy Spencer Stuart, agrees that airline marketing is a tough business. 'Airlines are subject to macro-economic pressures, so it is hard for marketers to make their mark,' he says 'The pressures are not really to do with consumers, and as a marketer you want to have an effect. Nonetheless, great marketers love a challenge, and these organisations must do business.'

BA is doing a particularly poor job at keeping talent, according to Guy Heppleworth, managing partner at marketing communications agency Space. 'When you instigate a voluntary redundancy programme, the idea is to keep great people and let go of the average ones, but it usually works out the other way around,' he says.

Industries requiring specific skillsets, for example, automotive and niche areas such as electronic gaming, are said to be finding it harder to recruit. However, according to Claire Owen, leader of vision and values at marketing recruitment company The SG Group, the worst-hit sector is financial services.

'A lot of people are on the job market, but there are also many staying put, especially in financial services, where there has been so much bad press,' she says. 'We may end up with a talent shortage in that area.'

James Boulton, marketing director at HSBC, adds that financial services marketing has become more cut-throat. He claims marketers are quitting Lloyds TSB and HBOS as they are concerned by the idea of a merger between two companies that are not 'natural bedfellows'.

Despite this, Boulton insists financial-services brands provide ample opportunities for talent. 'These are extremely exciting, if difficult, times to be involved with finance brands,' he says. 'Well-defined brands will prosper, so if you're capable in a recessionary environment, you could do really well. …

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