Funded by WPP’s Racial Equity Programme, ONE School will unlock the potential of the next generation of Black creatives so that they can build a top career in advertising
WPP has partnered with The One Club for Creativity to launch ONE School UK, a free 16-week online portfolio programme designed to open doors to a career in advertising for talented UK-based Black creatives.
ONE School launched in the US in 2020 as a free alternative to ad schools to provide new career opportunities for creative Black individuals and make agency and brand creative departments more diverse. The results-oriented school has already made a tangible difference: an 80% hire rate at top agencies and brands for its 128 graduates to date, 65% of whom are women.
The virtual ONE School UK will welcome its first cohort in March 2023. Black creatives from all walks of life are encouraged to apply for one of just 15 sought-after places. No prior knowledge of advertising is required. It will be run by Ez Blaine, founding Creative Partner at Uncommon Experience Studio in London. Born in Hackney and raised in North London, Blaine ran ONE School West while living in Los Angeles. He previously held creative leadership positions at brands and agencies including ChowNow, Apple, Sonos and WPP’s AKQA.
Ez Blaine, ONE School UK lead, said: “As a Black creative from the UK, it’s very meaningful to me to return here and help bring new Black talent into the creative industry. Our choice of Black lecturers and mentors helps close the gap and exposes students to creative leaders who they can relate to, allowing them to see a pathway for themselves into the industry. This is about teaching students to stand out for their Blackness, be 100% authentic to who they are and understand the value that brings.”
The partnership aligns with WPP’s set of anti-racism commitments made in 2020, which aim to advance racial equity and support Black and minority ethnic talent. It will form part of WPP’s Racial Equity Programme which – managed by WPP’s Dr. Stacie Graham – is a three-year, $30 million commitment to fund inclusion programmes within the company and to support external organisations.
Rob Reilly, Chief Creative Officer, WPP, said: “We’re committed to fostering a culture that delivers extraordinary work for our clients – work that’s authentic and reflective of the diverse world in which we live. This means making sure that all types of people, from all backgrounds, with different opinions and voices, are involved in the creative process from strategy to execution. Partnering with the One Club for Creativity to bring ONE School to the UK is a privilege and we’re excited to see what it can achieve, not only for our business but the industry at large.”
ONE School teaches students how to navigate the industry as a Black person. Courses are taught by Black tutors – including some from WPP agencies – and are designed to help students bring their authentic voice into their work.
Karen Blackett OBE, President of WPP in the UK, said: “We’re proud to partner with an organisation that shares our commitment to taking meaningful action to support, build and grow the Black creative community. Not only is this partnership – spearheaded by the wonderful Dr Stacie Graham via WPP’s Racial Equity Programme – about positively impacting under-represented talent, it’s also about recognising that, without diversity, our industry simply won’t thrive. The ONE School has been described as one of the biggest social change programmes in the history of the US ad industry. I can’t wait to see what it can do here in the UK.”
The US programme was co-founded with The One Club by Spotify Creative Director Oriel Davis-Lyons, who worked with industry veteran and One Club Head of Creative Development Bob Isherwood to develop the school shortly after the death of George Floyd. The initiative aims to ensure that the high cost of portfolio schools does not get in the way of giving world-class Black creative talent a route into the industry.