The One Club and WPP Partner To Bring ONE School Initiative for Black Creatives to the UK

The One Club for Creativity has partnered with WPP to launch ONE School UK, a free 16-week online portfolio program 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 in the US to date for its 128 graduates, 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.

ONE School UK 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.

ONE School teaches students how to navigate the industry while Black. Courses are taught by Black tutors – including some from WPP agencies – and designed to help students bring their authentic voice into their work.

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, and allows 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 US program 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. 

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.”

The partnership aligns with WPP’s set of anti-racism commitments and actions 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 programs within the company and to support external organizations.

Karen Blackett OBE, President of WPP in the UK, said: “We’re proud to partner with an organization 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 underrepresented talent, it’s also about recognizing that without diversity, our industry simply won’t thrive. The ONE School has been described as one of the biggest social change programs in the history of the US ad industry. I can’t wait to see what it can do here in the UK.”

Black creatives wanting to make the leap into advertising can find more details about ONE School UK, including information on how to apply, here.

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