Arnold finds stand up, stand out talent through comedy program

Arnold
AUSTIN – CIRCA MARCH 2016: Comedian Horatio Sanz performs stand up comedy and tells jokes at a theater in downtown Austin, Texas.

Advertising recruiters may need to start hanging out at places like the Comedy Cellar or The Laugh Factory to find new talent. As advertising agencies continue to seek new and unique ways to attract talent, our friends at Arnold Worldwide are turning to comedy clubs and writers’ rooms as part of its Institute for the Comedically Gifted program.

Already proving to be a success, the initiative is specifically focused on recruiting funny writing talent from diverse backgrounds to bring broader perspectives to the humor-based writing for which the agency has become known. In return, the program provides an opportunity for creative writers to work on commercial projects within the creative ad agency environment. 

Launched in the summer of 2021, the program attracts both up-and-coming and newly established comedians and emerging writers from all backgrounds. The three-month program enables prospective copywriters to work on some of the agency’s most high-profile and career-defining clients. Every quarter, Arnold selects two writers to work alongside creative teams on projects across the agency’s client roster. Participants are encouraged to contribute their own unique approach to briefs and content.

“At a certain point it occurred to me that maybe the two major talent problems we were consistently struggling with – a lack of funny people, and a lack of diverse voices – were two different versions of the same fundamental problem,” said Sean McBride, chief creative officer for Arnold Worldwide. “The familiar channels for finding and developing young creatives are still great, they’re just really specific. And we’ve already had some success finding talent in unusual places — specifically funny people. So, the trick was putting a structure to that, and focusing on diverse voices.”


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In the program’s first year, Arnold hired one of the inaugural writers, Sam Ike—a Boston-based stand-up comedian who has performed in festivals that include Second City/NBC Universal Breakout in Chicago—as a full-time junior copywriter.

“We are committed to diversifying our team and to do that we have to break down processes and systems that are barriers to connecting with underrepresented creative talent,” said Julianna Akuamoah, chief talent officer for Arnold Worldwide. “With the Institute for the Comedically Gifted, we are evolving the way we build authentic connections. This program is our way of meeting talent where they are and inviting them into our world, sharing what we have to offer and creating opportunities for them to contribute and use their voices in ways our industry hasn’t before.”



Qualifications to apply for the program are purposefully broad to encourage new and semi-established writers and comedians to consider working with the agency. Prospective writers can apply via comedicallygifted@arn.com.

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