Ad agencies launch Real Living Wage Pledge

By Eliza Williams

The Real Living Wage Pledge has been spearheaded by independent agencies Creature and Wieden + Kennedy London and is supported by the AAR, IPA, Oystercatchers, and Grey London’s Diversity Taskforce, an informal collective of agencies that have come together to try and actively promote diversity in the industry.

Those who sign up to the initiative will promise to pay all staff over the age of 18 the real living wage, which is £10.20 per hour and £8.75 elsewhere. This will include cleaners, runners, interns and those on work experience, whether they be permanent or freelance.

The inclusion of interns in the pledge is crucial, as research from The Sutton Trust has revealed that 31% of university graduates working as interns are doing so for no pay. The numbers of unpaid internships has also doubled since 2010, with the monthly cost to an intern working in London estimated to average more than £1,000.

With diversity a recognised problem in the ad industry, the fact that many graduates may have to work for free to gain vital experience inevitably means that many may feel ‘priced out’ of the industry from the start.

The Sutton Trust has revealed that 31% of university graduates working as interns are doing so for no pay

“Advertising, like so many industries, has a diversity problem – and thankfully there are a number of people working to fix that,” says CEO and co-founder of Creature Dan Cullen-Shute. “In the past we’d ask for relevant experience, and then too often not pay people when they’re trying to get it, which means the doors to our industry are shut to people who can’t afford to work for free.”

“A simple thing we can all do to remove a barrier to entry to the industry is to ensure we pay people in entry level positions enough to live,” agrees Helen Andrews, Managing Director of Wieden + Kennedy London. “As a minimum, we pay everyone who works on our premises the real living wage and are proud to help lead the pledge to help make the creative sector more accessible to all.”

Agencies who have already signed up to the Real Living Wage Pledge are 1492, 18 Feet & Rising, Above & Beyond, AMV BBDO, AnalogFolk, Anomaly, BJL, The Corner, Creature, Droga5, Essence, Everything Different, Grey London, Integer, Isobel, Lucky Generals, MBA, McCann London, Mediacom, Mindshare, Momentum, Mother, MRM-Meteorite, MullenLowe London, Now, Saatchi & Saatchi, Sunshine, TBWALondon, Uncommon, VCCP, Wavemaker, WCRS, Wieden + Kennedy London, and Y&R London.

More information, and how agencies can sign up, is at

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