Lauren: 3 Days, 6 Agencies

Whew! I just spent my spring break traveling around New York City, getting a behind-the-scenes, inside look at some of the top advertising agencies in the Big Apple.  We saw everything: traditional agencies, digital agencies, media agencies and even some NON advertising agencies. It was an awesome experience to visit these great companies, and I can’t wait to tell you all about them!

nyc-trips

Google: 

Obviously, Google’s office in NYC is absolutely amazing!  They have game rooms, multiple cafeterias (with a food truck INSIDE the building) and these awesome treadmills so employees can complete their work while walking and exercising. While Google isn’t really an advertising agency, they still have creative designers, strategists and marketing people, just like any agency.  Their work focuses on the cross between technology and creativity.

During their presentation, they showed us a video from Google Creative Lab’s Robert Wong about the Future of Storytelling, which inspired me, and the rest of the students, to remember that advertising, and communication in general, is all about telling a story. And even though we grow older, people still enjoy hearing stories, just like they did as children.

R/GA:

This advertising agency has an interesting history.  Founded in 1977 by two brothers, R/GA was originally a design agency that focused on video production, motion-graphics and live-action film.  Back in the day, they were most famously known for working on the  opening title sequence of the 1978 movie Superman.  Since then, the company has transitioned into an advertising agency with a digital focus and an emphasis on product innovation.

R/GA has produced some really amazing work, like Nike’s FuelBand, Windows Time Square Takeover, and the Dr. Dre Beats commercials.  The biggest take-away I got from our time visiting this agency was that everything is incredibly fast-paced in agency life, especially compared to the work pace in the classroom.  Instead of having a month to work on a project, deliverables get produced in a matter of weeks in ad agencies! While that might seem intimidating to some students, I find it incredibly exhilarating!

Publicis Kaplan Thaler:

This agency is filled with BU alumni (how awesome is that?) and is run by two incredible ladies, (girl power!) CEO and Chief Creative Officer Linda Kaplan Thaler and President Robin Koval (who together, published a book called The Power of Nice: How to Conquer the Business World With Kindness). They have some pretty incredible work, like Crest and Oral-B, the Aflac Duck, Wendy’s, Charmin’s Sit or Squat app and CitiBank’s CitiBike.

During the tour, we had a Q&A session with recent alumni, who discussed the differences between school projects and life in the real-world (longer hours and more pressure were the most popular differences).  They also talked about how to adjust to agency life.  It was so helpful to get a firsthand look from people who were in my shoes just under a year ago!

Grey:

Grey, the agency behind the eTrade Baby, the infamous Cialis commercials, and Easy, Breezy, Beautiful CoverGirl, won AdAge’s prestigious “Agency of the Year,” a really incredible feat considering all the amazing agencies out there. Grey focuses on creating work that is both famous & effective, and they’ve succeed with some of their brilliant commercials and print advertisements.

What I learned at Grey was something really interesting about being in an account role.  It’s almost like being a point guard, because your job is to provide scoring opportunities for your team.  I think that’s a really great, inspiring way to look at the account management side of advertising. We also learned about the importance of having impressive presentation skills. Grey got me really inspired to work in the field.

Firstborn:

This small shop (around 100 people) has gained some traction with their work for Uniqlo (on Pinterest) and Rolex.  The president of Firstborn (a BU graduate) has helped this agency grow into a business that produces some creative, out-of-the-box and award-winning work.

firstborn

The most important thing I learned while chatting with the sharp minds at Firstborn was that creativity can come from anywhere. Creative ideas don’t just come from copywriters, art directors or designers. They can come from anyone who is passionate about the project. Their emphasis on collaboration and teamwork definitely showed me the perks and advantages of working for a smaller agency.

Giant Spoon: 

Giant Spoon is a start-up founded by some of the former senior team members of Omnicom’s OMD unit (aka some BU COM alumni!). This media agency “humanizes” media buying, and comes up with ideas that attract advertisers and agencies to use social news publishers and new, creative media placement. Their strategic, creative focus greatly differs from other media companies that are rather robotic in the way they buy media. Some of Giant Spoon’s clients include NBC Universal, GE (on Jimmy Fallon!) and Buzzfeed.

Best insight I got from Giant Spoon?- how exciting start-ups can be! The founders taught us that we shouldn’t be afraid to take risks, and follow great ideas. They knew they could change the way media was bought, and they had the courage to leave their jobs and start a company all on their own. Both of them seemed incredibly passionate and proud of their work, which left the students feeling completely energized and motivated.

 

This trip was the perfect way for me to spend my last spring break!  Special thanks to BU’s College of Communication, Tobe Berkovitz, Carolyn Clark, Allison Hoyt and Ms. Livingston and Mr. Levin for making the tour possible!

 

Tom: Winter Internship

Hi all!

BU Students, Welcome back to Campus! I am very happy to be back on campus for my last semester ever (GASP!).

 

While most students spent their Winter Break streaming Netflix, catching up with old friends, and taking corny family photos – I spent my winter break by returning to my summer internship at AKA NYC. AKA NYC is a Broadway and live entertainment boutique advertising and marketing agency located in… yes, you guessed it… New York City. Some of their clients include MATILDA THE MUSICAL, ROCK OF AGES, and the recently closed SPIDER-MAN: TURN OFF THE DARK. I returned to the company as a Marketing and Promotions Intern.

Interning over the winter break was an excellent opportunity to get back to the swing of interning, reconnect with old friends and co-workers, and to continue to broaden my experience in the theater industry. You would be surprised how much you can learn even in just a three week internship, and are even more surprised by how much changes in just four months.

Most importantly, my winter internship reinvigorated my love for theatrical advertising moving into this semester. While my auditions are still in the works, I’m certainly hoping to get back at Theatre Producing in my last semester with BU On Broadway and BU Stage Troupe. When I have more info on what shows I will be working on this semester, I’ll be sure to share!

Cheers to a happy spring semester (and my last!)

-Tom

Jon: SXSW Interactive – Celebrating the Future of Advertising and Technology

Hello again! BU got back from break on Monday, and everyone will be catching up on their adventures over the past week. While many students departed for popular collegiate destinations such as Cancun, Miami, and California, a group of digital media students and professionals gathered in Austin, Texas for the South-by-Southwest (SXSW) Interactive festival. When it first began, SXSW Interactive was relatively unknown, and was easily dwarfed by its big brother SXSW Music and Film festivals. However, Interactive’s popularity has risen in recent years as digital media continues to dominate everyday life, and now the festival sees a massive turnout every year. Part conference, part trade show, and part spring break party, topics stretch the limits of the (broad) realm of digital media. I was lucky enough to attend this year with two other BU students, and while I could spend this whole post talking about the full size model of NASA’s new Hubble replacement, the James Webb telescope that was on display there (it is SO COOL), I’m going to share the top three predictions for the future of marketing that I took away from SXSW Interactive.

 

1)    Ad agencies and tech companies are going to become closer partners than ever before – Google’s ArtCopyCode initiative that they were promoting made this more than clear. On display were a pair of talking shoes that gave the wearer feedback on their actions, a road trip app developed in partnership with Volkswagen, and an effort Google is making to help filmmakers re-imagine their work for new web canvases. Each project was interesting, but the bigger message was clear: digital technology is here to stay, and marketers better start thinking about how they can create compelling interactive experiences.

2)    Physical products and experience are the new digital – Records, CDs, personal letters – these Mesozoic objects could make a comeback as a response to the increasingly digital world. Flourishing record sales could be written off as a trendy cultural phenomenon, but many see this as a symptom of a deeper human demand for physical experiences. Watch for brands looking to create new physical materials and events over the next few years, as consumers begin to taper their computer usage.

3)    Be diverse – If SXSW drove one point home for me, it was this one. From the attendees, who quite literally came from all over the world, to the range of topics (I attended a talk on voice acting for video games and Al Gore’s keynote on the future in the same weekend), SXSW Interactive is an incredibly diverse event. Even though SXSW is just a microcosm of humanity, it reflects and shapes the larger world. Borders, both digital and physical, are crumbling. At the end of the day, those who embrace and celebrate diversity are the ones who will flourish.

And now you have my two cents on SXSW! Thanks for reading, and good luck with the last push before Summer!

Until Next Time,

Jon

 

Jon: COM Talks

Hey everyone! As a self-proclaimed ad-geek, I love getting as much info about advertising as I can. Luckily for me (and all my peers), COM hosts a number of awesome events and speakers throughout the year, and there’s another one coming up tonight!

At 5 p.m. tonight, Mike Schneider, the SVP and Director of the Digital Incubator at a&g, will be giving a talk titled: The Role of Authentic Content in Modern Branding. While at first glance, that may seem like an awful lot of buzzwords, I can assure you that there is substance to back them up!

You see, I got the chance to hear Mike Schneider (or @SchneiderMike, as the Twitterverse knows him), last year at a panel COM hosted on how companies and agencies going beyond the basics of social media and use it to effectively access and communicate with their target communities. Pretty cool, eh? Like I said: ad-geek.

Anyways, I was blown away by Mike’s breadth of knowledge and comfort with public speaking. He was quick, personable, incredibly sharp, and best of all, witty. Not only did he teach the audience some valuable lessons, but he kept them entertained while doing it (largely as a result of his banter with fellow panelist and COM professor Edward Boches). After hearing him talk, I certainly felt more informed about how I could more strategically implement a social media plan if I were thrust into that role at an agency.

Tomorrow he will speak again on the topic of content branding; a recent trend where advertisers and agencies create real content that expands or shapes a brand’s image, rather than simply trying to sell it to a target market. Agencies and clients are rapidly seeing more value in this kind of content, as it provides content consumers actually want to engage with for its own sake, while simultaneously giving the brand exposure. A great example is this Mini Cooper campaign launched by DDB Paris that featured a game based on Google Maps http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uveD0Z3lIWo.

Opportunities like these are just one more of the many reasons I love COM. Make sure you take advantage of them! They are informative and helpful for career development, as well as quite entertaining.

And the best part? They’re almost always free.

Until next time,

Jon

Link to the Event: http://schneidermike.eventbrite.com/

 

Lauren: ADventures in COM!

Hi everyone!  As an advertising major here at COM, I’ve had the opportunity to get hands-on copywriting and design experience inside the classroom!  It’s amazing to know that my professors are working to prepare me for life in the advertising industry!  I’m so lucky to have the opportunity to take such exciting classes.

In one of my classes, Creative Development, our professor assigns us a specific client each week, like Weight Watchers, Boston Public Health Commission or Happy Tot Baby Foods, and asks us to create the concept for a billboard ad, print ad or direct mailing piece for the brand or organization.  The class is generally split between copywriters and art directors, so two students work together on the project.  It really has helped us learn about what it takes to work successfully in a group setting.  We also have to present our ideas in front of the class, which gives us great public speaking experience.  Presentation skills are definitely useful, especially in the advertising industry.  This class is one of my favorites because it keeps my creative juices flowing and lets me experiment and present some wild ideas!

In another one of my classes, Design and New Media I, one of our assignments was to create the concept for our own, made-up company!  We’re spending the semester designing a website and promotional material for this organization!  It’s so much fun to execute some wacky ideas.  The sky’s the limit.  Along the way, we’re learning how to use the Adobe Creative Suite, Dreamweaver and other design software.  It’s amazing to take your ideas and be able to execute them right on the screen!

In my Advertising Management class, I’m learning all about the business side of the advertising industry.  It takes a special set of skills to manage an account and deal with a client, and this class is teaching me all about it!  We’re learning about branding, writing creative strategies, holding client meetings and other essential responsibilities of an account management position.   It’s great to have a great understanding of both the creative side and business side of the industry.  And a lot of the work I’m producing for my classes can be used in my portfolio too.

It’s incredible that I’m able to get such a great head start into the field! I feel like one of the “Mad (Wo)Men” already, and I haven’t even graduated yet!  I hope you’re all enjoying your classes as much as I’m enjoying mine!

 

Steph: COM- Truly Interdisciplinary

COM: Truly Interdisciplinary

Hey guys! For you new Terriers out there, I hope all of you have had a great first week of school! I know I have. So far, one of my favorite things about my classes is that they all seem to overlap—the things that I’m learning in one class inform the things I’m learning in another. For me, that’s awesome. One of the best things about COM is that everything is related, which shows what a truly well rounded education it provides.

For example, I’m currently taking a history class called American Pop Culture, which spans the Victorian Era to the present day, or in other words, Vaudeville to “Jersey Shore.” Right now we’re talking about the early 1900’s, and how the Industrial Revolution created the concept of leisure time. One thing that people in the 1920s and 30s would do for leisure is listen to the radio. Approximately 4 hours later, I’m sitting in my Understanding Television class, learning all about the birth of the radio and how it served to unify the nation in times of hardship. We also learn about how at a certain point, advertising agencies really dominated radio by creating product-sponsored shows. The next morning at 8 am, I listen to my professor talk about the early days of product integration in my Intro to Advertising class.

And then there’s my wildcard class, called Magic, Science, and Religion. Our last lecture we talked about ancient Egyptian spells. I’m still waiting to see how it will connect to my other classes. 😉

Hope all of you guys are enjoying your classes as much as I am!

Tiffany: My Summer at Digitas – Mad Men In Real Life

Greetings from one of those big, tall, fancy buildings in downtown Boston!

This week marks my 7th week interning at Digitas, a leading global advertising agency that pioneered the digital age in advertising. I along with 24 other interns from all sorts of different backgrounds, universities, and interests are working across the many different capabilities within the agency such as marketing, project management, account planning, art direction, copy writing, user experience, media, technology, and more.

I’m specifically interning in marketing, or what some other agencies might refer to as account management, on a Fortune 100 financial services client. In particular, my team works on corporate social responsibility for the client, meaning we tell their story as a brand and manage their overall brand image through our work.

For those who are die-hard Mad Men fans out there, I hate to break your hearts, but agency life isn’t quite how Don Draper lives it out. In many ways, the hit TV show has portrayed agency life spot on in that sometimes in order to be productive, one has to be unproductive first and let the creative juices naturally flow. My team in particular, has set up a nerf gun battlefield throughout the floor to help each other through those frustrating times and just have a little fun. It’s not quite like how the agency in Mad Men likes to be unproductive with their 2 hour oyster lunches, cigarette breaks, and excessive alcohol consumption, but we take breaks as often as necessary and look to each other to join in on the unproductivity to ultimately help each other be productive.

Which brings me to one of the aspects of agency life that Mad Men doesn’t quite portray as well as it maybe should, which is the importance of teamwork. Throughout the 7 weeks I’ve been interning here, I’ve been blown away by how fluidly the different capabilities work together towards a common goal. They all genuinely look out for each other and not only have the client, but also each other’s best interest in mind. With this, the work is just that much better and everyone walks away a little saner and with a bigger smile on their face at the end of each day. Despite their differences in specialties, the Photoshop genius of an art director, the organized marketing manager, and the number savvy analyst all work together to help give the client the best recommendation possible by pulling together their strengths and trusting each other to fill in the holes on their own capability’s weaknesses. So whether its providing the client with our point of view on a certain campaign move or participating in a floor-wide nerf gun fight, everyone is part of the team and looks out for each other no matter how big or small the task/problem at hand.

I’m honestly quite sad for the internship to be more than half way over, because I’ve become an integral part of this hard-working yet silly, nerf-gun playing team. However, I eagerly am looking forward to the remainder of my time with Digitas as I still have much to learn! More updates on my insights in advertising life in a few weeks!

Happy summer, everyone!

Tom: I Wanna Be a Producer

Tom ImageHey guys! Last time you saw me I gave you guys the rundown about how to conquer auditions at Boston University. This time I’m back with some more theater for you guys. Now I bet you guys are thinking – “yes, Tom’s really into theater, but what does this have to do with the College of Communication?” Through my involvement with BU On Broadway, I managed to find a way to combine my major in advertising with my passion for theater: I became a Producer.

Last semester, I took on being a producer for the first time for our production of The Producers (I know… producer of The Producers, way too much producer in one sentence.) Taking on the role of producer was a much bigger commitment than I thought it was, but it provided me with a huge resume and experience booster for the future. Plus, it was actually something I enjoyed doing and was applicable to my future career.

So what does a Producer do exactly?

1. Advertising, Advertising, and more Advertising. The Producer’s main job is to sell the show. This involves everything including poster design, T-Shirt design, and handouts for us to give out in the George Sherman Union. We also ran a social media campaign for the production using the hashtag: #PrOBucers (note the “OB” (On Broadway) in the middle).

2. Managing the Budget. Ah, the budget. A COM kid’s least favorite word. Unfortunately, being a Producer isn’t all fun and games advertising. You also need to take the cost of the whole production into account. The producers are responsible for making sure that the tech crew stays within their budget and are reimbursed through the Student Activities Office for all the purchases they made. While very tedious, managing a budget is an extremely valuable skill I picked up that’s relevant to any future in Account Management.

3. Work with the Student Activities Office. As On Broadway is a student group on campus, someone needs to be responsible for checking in with the Student Activities Office. This is where the producers come in. The producers need to fill out numerous forms in addition to making sure everything is set for opening night.

Here’s some advice:

While I’m not recommending everyone interested in communication run out and be a producer, I would advise new COM students to do what their passionate about. I got involved with On Broadway as an actor, and managed to blend my love for theater with my future aspirations in advertising. My advice: be a good student and stick to what you love. Your career aspirations will eventually work out.

That’s all for now! I hope to keep you updated with my newest producing endeavor: this spring’s production of Spring Awakening!