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Looking at the companies that strive to recruit MBA graduates is like reading a list of the top British and global advertisers. You have only to glance at it to realise that clients like MBAs, a fact underlined by recent coverage in the national press business pages that Allan Leighton, the deputy chief executive of Asda, is taking an MBA at Harvard.
But this enthusiasm among advertisers is hardly matched by their agencies. It,s only marginally harder to find a needle in a haystack than an MBA in an agency. It's easy to understand why this indifference towards MBAS has developed. With pressure on budgets, and reports each year that other forms of promotion are taking a larger slice of the marketing services cake, the advertising industry could be forgiven for believing that its competitive set comprises sales promotion, PR and direct marketing agencies - largely providers of services rather than strategic advice. And besides, advertising's ultimate concern is creativity, isn't it? In this context, staff with MBAs may be desirable, but a bit of a luxury - particularly when you find out how much they cost to hire.
However, the absence of MBAs begins to look rather baffling when you consider the other traditional role of agencies - as providers of business counsel. Here, clients might seek advice from accountants, bankers or management consultants - organizations where staff need the kind of formal business training you get with an MBA. So are agencies saving money by not employing expensive people with what they perceive a redundant qualification, or are they missing an important trick?
Jamie Reeve, formerly with the consultants, Lek Partnership, and now a senior analyst in the corporate strategy department of the BBC. believes …