Brixton Finishing School launches virtual learning course for under-represented talent during Covid-19 and beyond.

School unveils new ad campaign and brand identity with pro bono help from Brave, Essence, Clear Channel, MailOnline and Metro

Brixton Finishing School, a ground-breaking 10-week digital creative and digital accelerator programme, today announces a pivot to virtual lessons in response to the Covid-19 outbreak. The school, which offers a lifeline for under-represented groups by providing skills through real-world advertising experiences, has brought forward the move by a year, enabling under-served communities across Britain a bridge into advertising, regardless of location or background.

Ally Owen, Brixton Finishing School’s Founder, said “In these uncertain times, when schools and businesses are shuttering the world-over, we saw an opportunity to reach more young people and encourage outstanding talent into advertising regardless of academic qualifications. We fast-tracked plans to create an inclusive digital space as well as a physical experience from 2021, to give as many people with potential – who might ordinarily be working in industries like hospitality (who I know, as an ex employee of this sector are rich in transferable skills) – a chance to enter our industry and all the economic success it offers.”

The virtual school, beginning on 29th June 2020, will recruit students through ‘online taster sessions’. It will offer a wide curriculum choice including interactive learning through masterclasses and workshops, with video classrooms, a shared working agenda and independent project work.

This week also marks the launch of an eye-catching new ad campaign and brand identity for the school, aimed at encouraging untapped talent from under-represented backgrounds, including multicultural, working class, neuro-diverse, and female – into the industry through training and work experience.

The campaign and brand refresh celebrates the inherent value and potential of inexperienced and creative young people with a hunger to succeed, flying in the face of attributes that have created a barrier to entry within advertising for many people such as class, ethnicity and academic qualifications.

The colourful ads and website feature graduates from the 2019 Brixton Finishing School – some of whom have gone on to secure roles at leading companies including R/GA, Adam & Eve DDB, Mail Metro Media, Clear Channel, Rubicon Project, Kinetic, Mediacom and Vizeum Global – and encourages talent to start applying now for the Summer 2020 cohort. 

The ad campaign was created by young talent at Brave and the brand refresh was delivered by the creative team at Essence. Both agencies worked pro bono.

Brixton Finishing School relies on the generosity of agencies and media companies donating their time and ad space to further the cause. The campaign will run online via MailOnline and, as well as Digital Out of Home through Clear Channel across the capital and an impactful Metro cover wrap.

Whilst multicultural representation in communities is at an ‘all time high’, still only 13.8% of UK ad agency employees identify as multicultural and just 5.6% of C-Suite execs are from ethnic minority backgrounds. Furthermore, whilst female representation is around 52%across agencies, at board level this figure sits at just 32.7%.

The industry is crying out for different voices to create fresh perspectives, new ideas and ultimately better work. We encourage others who want to be part of this positive movement to join our alliance and be a force for positive change,” Owen said.

Speaking on the project, Business Director, Declan Garvin at Brave said “As a white working class lad seeking that first ad job in the mid-90s, London rents were cheap and more opportunities existed so it was difficult but not impossible to break into the creative industry.  Since then the cost of housing has risen year on year, more people have gained qualifications, government funding for apprenticeships has been very sporadic and as a result social mobility has got increasingly worse. I’ve felt pretty powerless to do anything which is why I’ve been so inspired since meeting Ally, her team and the super talented students past and present from Brixton Finishing School. We all have a collective responsibility to improve diversity in adland so it’s a no brainer for us at Brave to support Ally in her energetic mission to bring the unique content from her course to a wider online audience which will mean she can champion and fight for even more positive change.”

Andrew Veasey, Vice President of Creative at Essence, added “Brixton Finishing School offers a new channel for the industry to welcome fresh thinking in and a lifeline for young people who might not ordinarily receive opportunities like this. We were thrilled to help such a worthwhile cause and were blown away by Ally’s energy and drive to build a better future.

Caroline Lee, Clear Channel HR Business Partner says, “We’re really proud to continue our support for Brixton Finishing School. Ally and the team have already done amazing things for dozens of young people to kick start careers in Media and Advertising and we’re looking forward to seeing the next cohort flourish too.”

Ryan Uhl, Brand Strategy Director, and Lauren Dick, Director, Business Development, at Mail Metro Media

“There is just something so special about the programme that Ally has created. Firstly Ally finds raw, unfiltered and super creative individuals, and then gives them an all access accelerator delivered by some of the best experts of the industry. The talent that has entered our business because of Brixton FInishing School is something we will always be thankful for and one of the reasons we are proud to continue to support the initiative. We are so excited to be going bigger this year by promoting the opportunity to more young people with a full Metro cover wrap hitting London and the South East, as well as UK wide digital creative on MailOnline and We hope to reach even more undiscovered talent in 2020!”

Brixton Finishing School begins on 29th June 2020 and is now accepting applications until 1st May 2020. Candidates will be assessed on industry positive attributes rather than academic qualifications in virtual group tasks with Brixton Finishing School industry supporters. 

The SCA 2.0, the world’s most awarded advertising school, awarded 3 scholarships to the talent graduating from the course in 2019 and will again open up their scholarship scheme to BFS talent in 2020.  

Source: Brixton Finishing School

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