People-train-public-transportation-hurry_banner(C) Mario Calvo

Working in advertising and marketing

About the Advertising and Marketing Industry

The advertising sector used to be like a loudhailer: shouting messages loudly to the widest possible audience. It is now much more sophisticated. The proliferation of channels and amount of data captured about individual behaviours and spending habits has pushed the advertising industry to work in a more refined way. Brands now have to utilise digital platforms and cross-promotional opportunities to reach a wider audience, making the industry more creative than ever before.

Many brands will have an in-house marketing team but largely they will commission an agency to create their advertising campaigns. Here are some of the key departments you will find in most agencies:

Account Management

The team that looks after the client and acts as a conduit between the client representative and the creative teams in the agency, helping to transmit ideas and feedback and keep projects on track. 


Also called strategy in some agencies, this is the team that commissions and interprets the research that creates the insight behind campaigns. For example, if a confectionery company wants to sell more chocolate bars, the planning team would conduct research into what drives people to eat chocolate.


This department is made up of the copywriters, responsible for the words that are seen or heard in an advertising campaign and the art directors who are responsible for the visual concept and detailing.  Copywriters and art directors work together in pairs as a creative team and are often recruited together when they move to a new agency. 


This team makes the creative concepts a reality: commissioning video and photography shoots, and laying out print campaigns.  They manage the production budget, are required to work to deadlines and need to have an understanding of brand guidelines and the technical rules around advertising, particularly in broadcast.


Also known as Research & Development, this is a growing part of the advertising sector with new roles springing up all the time.  The tech team in an agency will design and create websites, build apps, develop software and make sure that the campaigns are taking advantage of the latest advancements in technology.

Most agencies will outsource their media planning and buying to specialist agencies.  Those agencies work out where to place advertising campaigns – on television and radio, in online and print media – and negotiate the rates with companies who sell advertising space.  Advertising is placed strategically, targeting the right consumers for the product or service it is promoting.

Develop your skills

In addition to academic qualifications, employers are looking for skills and experience you will have been developing over many years. They seek energetic people and those with passionate interest in something they have pursued. They want to see what you’re capable of and how you might develop, and the best indication of that is what you have already achieved.

Think about how you can display your talents and your ability to work as part of a collaborative process. As well as a physical portfolio, you can create an online portfolio, or build an interactive community as a swarm on Hiive, the professional networking site for creative people.

The Ideas Foundation also offers 13 – 19 year olds some great industry standard challenges with their I Am Creative education project.

It is never too early to develop your understanding of the marketplace and keep up-to-date by reading trade press publications like AdWeek, Campaign and The Drum, on or offline. Check out the people and the work winning creative and effectiveness awards at the IPA Effectiveness Awards, the D&AD Awards and the Cannes Lions Festival Awards.

Facts and Figures

The UK advertising and marketing communications sector performs strongly creatively and commercially on the international stage. Aggregated worldwide creative awards reveal that only the larger US market ranks above the UK.  The UK industry also boasts the most advanced digital market in the world, placing over 30% of its expenditure online.

This sector is a significant contributor to the UK economy with £18.6bn spent on advertising in 2014, a figure that’s predicted to rise to £19.6bn in 2015. With export approaching £2.5bn and a total contribution to the UK economy in excess of £100bn, there is healthy demand for marketing communications, and the total spending on advertising is expected to grow by 5.7% over 2015.

There are over 150,000 people employed in the sector and the Advertising Association predicts five year job growth at more than twice the rate of the wider economy.


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