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Daily Telegraph, 9 July 1999

Admen urged to work harder on their own image

By Matt Born

THE advertising industry, staffed by scruffy creative types with ponytails, needs a make-over, according to a report published yesterday.

The old stereotype of creative people as unreliable and elitist, prevents British advertisers - together with film-makers, designers, publishers and Internet companies - competing with the rest of the world, it says.

The survey, based on interviews with 30 leaders of the creative world, has been commissioned before September's Creative Summit, an international conference in Sunderland to explore ways of developing the industry in Britain.

Despite being the fastest growing sector of the British economy, generating revenues of about £60 billion and employing more than 1.4 million people, the creative economy could do better if it could shed its poor image, the study concludes.

The other major handicaps it identified were the conservatism of British businesses and staid education system.

Carol Samms of Through The Loop Consulting, which conducted the research, said, “The most striking thing that came out of this was the belief that the education system is fundamentally flawed. The global economy is becoming increasingly competitive but the education system is not delivering minds capable of thinking freely.”

“Without that creativity and imagination, businesses don't generate ideas, don't create products, don't explore new markets and don't progress."

Despite the commercial success of films such as The Full Monty and inventions such as the Dyson dual cyclone vacuum cleaner, most people failed to see how creative industries affected them and thought of creative types as "airy-fairy".

David Kingsley, chairman of the Creative Summit, said that successful British entrepreneurs and inventors were the exception “Britain has the potential to be the hub of the creative world, surpassing even the US. We have the talent but we have to grasp the opportunities presented by new technology.”

He said the conference, from Sept 15 to 18, would bring people together "to talk about how we can make creativity work better in Britain" Among the speakers will be Lord Puttnam, Lord Bragg, Damien Hirst and Maurice Saatchi.

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