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Advertising Unlocked

Why inspiring the next generation of creatives matters to me.


Caroline Gill



Recently I had one of those ‘full circle’ moments that you have from time to time in your career.

I stood in front of 30 teenagers talking about the woman who inspired me to get into marketing. She worked as a lecturer, wore trouser suits, carried a briefcase and drove a sexy Rover 216 – all things 15-year-old me wanted a piece of. I hadn’t realised until I was talking about her how much I now have in common with her. She was a single mum, working full time in marketing, raising two sons. Tick, tick, tick. Strange how things turn out…

So, in November I hoped to inspire students to think about a career in marketing too as part of The IPA’s ‘Advertising Unlocked’ initiative. Advertising Unlocked is an industry-wide ‘open day’ where agencies open their doors to students to share what it’s like to work in marketing, and open their eyes to a whole bunch of careers that they might not have heard of.

And that’s just what we did. A group of us from IMA-HOME filled our café with students from Brigshaw High School and spoke to them about what we do at the agency, how we do it, what led us into the jobs we do now, and challenged them to develop their own strategic and creative thinking with a real life brief.

We also spent a lot of time talking about the different types of creativity you see in our industry – squashing the myth that ‘creative’ means ‘good at art’. A great agency is when creativity in all its forms comes together. Whether that’s seeing data from a new perspective, thinking how an idea works across different channels to make a rich integrated campaign, how an otherwise mundane purchase process can be made more engaging, how an emerging trend can be adapted to a brand’s need, and of course, how to make something look or sound amazing with visuals and words.

It goes without saying that I was mildly terrified about presenting to 30 teenagers, but we were so impressed by how engaged and enthusiastic everyone was, and the response to our live brief was seriously good stuff. This is a generation of imaginative content creators and brand builders with the tools to bring their ideas to life instantly, and seeing that in action made me really excited about what this could mean for the industry in the next 10 years.

Speaking of the future, this open day was just the start of our partnership with the school, as the Upriser scheme means we’ll be working with them for the next seven years, running assemblies, workshops, lesson takeovers, mentoring and much more (as if the day in November wasn’t scary enough). Upriser aims to flip the narrative around marketing just being a place for middle class graduates with a dad who can get them a cushy placement, by working with schools where students might be less likely to have those opportunities laid out for them. A bit like I was. I believe a scheme like this would have dramatically improved my chances of success at the beginning of my career.

My personal hope is that there might be a few students along the way who like the look of a creative career, and through working with us, get an idea of where to aim next after school. It’d also be very cool if there were even more students who had their eyes opened to their future potential and take their next step into whatever that is with more confidence or ambition than they might have otherwise had. And who knows, maybe in the future they’ll be standing up and inspiring the next generation too…

breaks into Whitney Houston


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