News / Advertising

The Real Living Wage Pledge aims to ensure fair pay for everyone, including interns


A group of 34 leading ad agencies including Wieden+Kennedy London, Creature, AMV BBDO, Grey, Droga5 and WCRS have joined the Real Living Wage Pledge campaign to “ensure fair pay and encourage diversity” across the industry. The initiative aims to make it a standard practice that everybody working in the ad industry, including interns and those on work experience over the age of 18, is paid the real living wage of £10.20 per hour in London and £8.75 elsewhere. This compares with the government living wage of £7.50 per hour for people over 25.

The pledge has been spearheaded by W+K and Creature with the intention that “nobody should ever feel a career in the creative industry is unavailable to them for financial reasons”. The agencies state that the industry employs more than 2 million people and contributes almost £92 billion to the UK economy. Those who sign up to the pledge promise to pay everyone working for them, or on their premises, the real living wage, which – it clarifies – includes cleaners, creatives or runners, permanent or freelance. Agencies who sign up will be accredited by the Living Wage Foundation, but goes one stage further than the LWF standard, which doesn’t currently cover interns or those doing work experience.

“"Research": has revealed 31% of university graduates working as interns are doing so for no pay, with numbers of unpaid internships doubling since 2010, with the monthly cost to an intern working in London averaging more than £1000,” the agencies’ statement reads.

Dan Cullen-Shute, co-founder of Creature, says advertising “has a diversity problem” and in the past, agencies would “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.”

Helen Andrews, managing director of W+K London continues: “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.”

Find out more about the real living wage here, and the ad industry pledge here.