Advertising education programs in universities don't enjoy the respect they should -- not because of what they try to do but from where they try to do it.
If our craft today is best defined as "marketing communications," in which advertising is only one piece of the artillery, isn't it weird that marketing majors come from business schools and communications majors come from what started as schools of journalism?
In ancient times, advertising was largely the work of copywriters. So advertising courses were placed in schools of journalism. That's where they taught people how to make a living writing words that sell things. Over the years, the high ranking officers running journalism schools were, understandably, journalists. Advertising instructors were viewed just slightly higher than assistant track coaches.
Those days behind us, advertising programs have remarkably improved, with marketing courses usually required -- but taught only in business schools.
What jolted me during my brief teaching experiences were the large walls between communications and business schools. Upon retirement, I served as a visiting advertising professor at two fine university schools of communications and journalism (the University of Tennessee and the University of Florida). When I suggested a course I was teaching, "Advertising Management," be more accurately named "Marketing Communications Management," I was told the word "marketing" was the property of the business school and could not be used in course names or descriptions offered by the communications school.
Attempting a bit of self-updating for this article, I interviewed, by telephone, six advertising professors, four advertisers and five agency executives of varying ranks and positions.
There are some fine programs out there, with dedicated teachers, turning out many able students. You have to admire those programs putting new energies against strategy, brand development, planning and consumer intelligence.
But where students are required to take a marketing course or two, off they must go to the business school to get it.
It works the other way, too. Business school marketing majors, perhaps with campus map in hand, walk over to the school of communications and journalism for required survey courses in advertising.
So these two segregated programs are producing people to administer integrated marketing communications. Go figure.
Where should all this integration take place? I vote for the communications schools. For one reason, most essential elements are already there. What needs to be added are marketing and a few other marketing-related subjects, such as statistics and brand management.
The "advertising" major then becomes the "marketing communications" major. Another reason for this shift: Communications schools attract creativity, and know better how to spot and nurture it, an ability without which this business -- and my suggestions for change -- are of no value.
As revolutionary and evil as it might sound to business schools, I am encouraged by what I see. Some of the better communications schools are making notable progress broadening their curricula, giving greater emphasis to such subjects as strategy development, planning and consumer behavior.
One school, seemingly knocking down the high fences between marketing and communications departments, created a master's program in marketing communications. It miraculously won permission from the business school to put in its own marketing courses. Why it took the creation of a master's program to get this done is not a tribute to higher education flexibility.
We will never have the best possible education of marketing communications people unless we get marketing and communications under the same roof and leadership. Instructors schooled and experienced in both marketing and communications should, in time, be in adequate supply.
Academic provinces are guarded carefully, and not easily altered. But our current segregated way of turning out integrated marketing communications graduates surely must end.
The obvious goal is to bring agencies better graduates.
LOW STARTING WAGES
Now we turn to another serious problem: What are agencies going to pay for better graduates? Under pressure from clients for more service for less money, agencies trying to reduce costs are no longer competitive with other businesses for top quality, entry-level people.
Starting wages are shamefully low. I won't risk dealing with the figures here, but the comparisons are scary. Many graduates who come aboard agencies excited about a future leave for money reasons alone.
Have clients squeezed agencies too hard? Indeed they have.
Are agencies making false economies when they think they can attract high-performance people at such low compensation levels? Yes, they are.
It won't do a lot of good for educators to invest in new structures and programs to meet the demand for marketing communications professionals if the primary employers -- agencies -- aren't able and willing to pay the price for better graduates.
This is no small problem. I hope the leaders in this marvelous business -- known for innovation and vision -- know how to get at it.
Mr. Marker, of Jupiter, Fla., and Greenwich, Conn., was chairman-CEO of McCann-Erickson from 1971 to 1975 and chairman of the executive committee of Needham, Harper & Steers from 1975-81. In addition to teaching since retirement, he has been a marketing communications consultant and seminar leader for corporations,