Reflection on an advertising education
May 1, 2008

This Friday will officially be my last day of class as an undergraduate student (well hopefully, unless something goes terribly wrong). I have spent a lot of time thinking about the time I have invested the last four years in school. I want to take a few minutes to examine my education, and the fruits of my degree.

Being an advertising major has opened many doors for me. I have had the opportunity to do marketing and advertising campaigns for both large and small clients. Between Adidas, Kelloggs, Pioneer Bank and Zinger Hardware I have been able to take academic advertising/marketing theories, and turn them into practical application and campaigns. I have seen what it means to work with a client, to work within both defined guidelines and vague recommendations. Professors have given me to freedom to explore the industry and express my thoughts and understanding on ideas like connections planning.

The most important thing that my education has done is taught me how to think as both a marketer and as a professional. The University of Texas Advertising department challenges students to think outside of the box. If a student has a good idea, a professor pushes them to find the great idea. Detailed tests, tight deadlines and a balance of extremely vague yet extremely defined restrictions create an environment that requires students to be at their best at all times. My freshman year I was angry at the TA who took 10 points off my project for not initialing my memo correctly. It was then I realized that I would have to fight not only to do well, but to be the best I could.

So I believe that a good advertising education is more than the clients you work with and the campaigns you execute. It is the caliber of work expected, and the environment that the professors create by pushing and challenging their students. What do you think?

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Integration is Key
April 23, 2008

Highly integrated products are my favorite types of branded utility. The more your product can work with and complement other products, the higher the satisfaction level of your consumer. In order to develop a more highly integrated product, you must establish two things

1) A collaborative model within your agency or company. Today is the universal launch of Facebook chat, a perfect example of deeper integration within an already established utility. Facebook provides many of the functions that other websites provide, while aggregating them all under one brand. Sharing pictures, chatting and messaging are all executed in one portal. Then the features of each utility are integrated within each other. If someone goes offline while you are chatting with them, you can send them a message. Engineers from each team must work together to make this possible.

2) Don’t let your strategy and marketing be confined to the walls of your building (or maybe intranet in this day and age). A willingness to think outside of your product and your company is key in developing branded utility. I think the business world calls this… partnerships. I referenced the Nike+ and iTunes example in my last branded utility post, but it is a stellar example of thinking out side of your walls. On the surface the two companies are very different. They began with identifying the core values and needs of their consumer. Then found a way to collaboratively become a relevant part of their target’s routine

I think it could be fun to brainstorm potential future branded utility partnerships. What do you think? Also, check out Noah Brier’s post on branded utility. There are awesome ideas in here!

What is Connections Planning?
April 2, 2008

Connections Planning was the jumping off point for Adbridge. Last spring, I had the opportunity to work with the Connections Planning Team at GSD&M here in Austin. Then in the fall, I went to the Connections Planning Conference hosted by Trumpet Brand Studio. Afterwards, I sat down with my media professor and had a conversation about Connections Planning, and what it meant for our discipline and industry. We committed to doing an independent study aimed to pinpoint the role of connections in the industry.

Our first task in the independent study was to do a white paper on Connections/360/Communications Planning. The four of us dove right into the research and realized the issue we want to address is bigger than a new discipline in an ad agency. Connections isn’t account planning for media, or media as the new creative. The real issue is the call for change in the advertising agency model. This refers back to Jennifer’s Post on the agency as a well-oiled machine. It functions efficiently, but not to its full creative potential.

To us, Connections Planning is simply a mindset and a way of looking at agency structure and strategy. It is an agency model where egos are checked at the doors, and the people are inspired by collaboration and working in teams. The right idea for a campaign can come from any department. Many of the agency interviews to come will represent the ways Connections has manifested itself in agencies today.

So this is what we think…what do you think? Is this a new discipline, another layer added to our system of strategy or a band-aid to the much bigger problem in agencies today.