A cruel Mother

This morning the London advertising agency Mother announced an incentive – It would donate money to charity. The catch, however, was that the money would come from charging people for placements.

We did not like that idea. We asked Honor Clement-Hayes what she thought, and as it happens, she didn’t like the idea either.


How I feel when I hear young, desperate creatives are being exploited because they’re young and desperate: very cross. Mother, the kind of agency art students dream of being picked up by, are charging money for impoverished newbies to be entered into a random raffle for such an opportunity. It’s for charity, but when the words “What would you do for a chair at Mother – eat your own testicles?” appear next to a drive for Children in Need, I wonder at how charitable the motivation is. It has apparently become such a CHORE for such an agency as Mother to wade through the tiresome portfolios of these bright young things that a Hunger Games may be the next preferred method for talent acquisition. I cringe at the idea of smugly settled Mothers flicking through the entrants, raising arched eyebrows at the deplorable selection of upstarts thinking they’re worthy of cluttering up the place. The assumption by a lot of agencies that you should be honoured to prostrate yourself before their altar of awesome is sickening. This is not how it works. An agency should see itself as a treasure house of mercurial talent, of which it is a mere custodian. An agency should feel worried at all times that it will lose its talent – its intangible SOMETHING – to someone else. Creativity cannot flourish in a state of fear. When you leave university (or Wetherspoons, in my case), you are cast adrift on an ocean of uncertainty. You can’t create, you can’t even think. How are you going to pay rent on the awful room you need in order to get a job in London, that holy place of the billable arts? All you want is to find somewhere warm that will let you colour things in for a few hours each day. But never did I think I might be asked to pay money to win an internship at random, sacrificing my pride and belief in my talent to a sadistic game of dumb luck. My anxious mind won’t let me run away from the vision of how that first day would go: creeping up the concrete stairs at some artsy warehouse and entering a vast, open space filled with people who can’t wait to initiate me into the hard facts of the creative industry. Mother, you are devaluing talent. In an industry that’s fuelled by the sweat of hungry creators, you hold a position of responsibility to those who would toil for you. How can I respect you, how can I want to work for you, how can I employ your services, when you treat people this way?

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