Boyko widens ad definition for next generation at VCU

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In his first public move as managing director of the VCU AdCenter, Rick Boyko, has dramatically expanded the Richmond, Va.-based school's board of directors, recruiting executives from a wide swath of disciplines ranging from entertainment content and film production to design and sales.

"My mission is to teach about the future. That means we need to reinvent where an idea comes from and to help the next generation of advertising executives expand beyond the traditional definition of advertising," said Mr. Boyko, 55, the former chief creative officer of WPP Group's Ogilvy & Mather North America and co-president of Ogilvy, New York. He left the agency in July, ending a 13-year tenure, to lead the graduate program.

Founded seven years ago, the AdCenter is part of Virginia Commonwealth University and operates using money raised from tuition and through other means, which will be one of Mr. Boyko's greatest challenges. Expanding the board, from 15 members to 36, is part of that effort-bringing in new blood invites industry attention and participation. "I'm going to make it a brand," Mr. Boyko said. "Once you raise its awareness and communicate what it stands for, VCU will begin to resonate with people in a different way."

Broadening the school's board with executives such as Geoffrey Frost, VP-global marketing communications, Motorola and Esther Lee, marketing administration, Coca-Cola Co., marks the beginning of Mr. Boyko's intent to keep VCU relevant and vital. Many marketing and advertising executives have decried the decision of numerous ad agencies in recent years to end successful but expensive in-house training programs in the interest of meeting Wall Street expectations. Moreover, the very definition of an ad has changed dramatically in the past decade-witness Crispin, Porter & Bogusky's 2002 effort for the launch of BMW's Mini Cooper, in which guerilla and promotional components figured prominently and TV, though included, was not the centerpiece.

new tricks

Those factors have led some industry critics to argue that ad school curriculums are at fault for teaching students only what has worked before, rather than instructing them on how to be part of a creative vanguard.

Mr. Boyko acknowledges those concerns to an extent and vows to improve the school's offering. "What we need to teach is not only how to execute but how to create ideas that stretch past conventional media."

The new directors will participate in helping VCU become what Mr. Boyko describes as "the Harvard of advertising." Specifics on each director's commitment to the school will be announced soon.

The intent is commendable, said Jason Gaboriau, co-founder and creative of New York startup Amalgamated. As the shop's creative voice, Mr. Gaboriau, 30, hires staff and also teaches undergrads at his alma mater, the Fashion Institute of Technology. "With today's tight budgets, creatives don't often have time to mentor. As someone who hires, and sees a lot of books, VCU grads come in with a strong background in making ads. I think it is always good to broaden students' minds. The one thing we cannot lose sight of is that students must learn first how to come up with good ideas and to think conceptually."

Other new board members include Jon Kamen, chairman-CEO, @Radical Media; Walter Latham, president, Latham Productions; Dennis Manarchy, Manarchy Films; Sir Ken Robinson, author and senior advisor to the president-education, J. Paul Getty Trust and Alex Bogusky, creative director at Crispin Porter.

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