Tiffany Warren shared some of the background of the program in her blog last week. The program, organized by Virtual Enterprises, provides a structured program for getting high school students involved in the advertising process. I attended the event last week and observed a colorful mix of cultures, personalities and ideas from the next pool of talent for the industry. There was passion, enthusiasm, dedication, and professionally presented and executed creative work and presentations by the students.
Advertising Futures stands in contrast to the lack of diversity at the AAF's National Student Competition. Though an extremely well run and well received program, the National Student Competition is most successful with traditional agency feeder schools -- schools with extremely low attendance by a diverse student population and is not providing a representative pool of diverse talent for the agency recruiters. There isn't a lack of interest by diverse students, but there is a disconnect between diverse high school students with an interest and passion and the path to a career in the ad business that can be altered if we use the tools that we already have.
The proposed Ad School in Brooklyn announced last week is to be commended (still trying to find at least one advertising person of color included in this project, hmmmm!). But creating awareness and igniting a passion to pursue an advertising career does not require such an ambitious yet limited focus when there is an opportunity to spray the pixie dust of a love of advertising across so many young minds across the nation.
The opportunity for Advertising Week next year is to continue the momentum and outreach to the beautifully diverse New York student community. In addition to a continuity program for the Advertising Futures beyond the much needed GenerationNext scholarships for winners that were announced last week, there are other elements that can be incorporated. A more aggressive outreach to college students in New York can go well beyond job fairs by raising awareness of the advertising companies, examining careers paths (and looking beyond starting salaries), igniting ideas and instilling a passion for advertising.
How do we continue the momentum that was built? We can continue the relationship, guide them through the college level and welcome them into the industry, whether they get a coveted internship or not. There are plenty of smart CRM, digital and recruitment experts that can easily make it a reality by using great networking sites such as Facebook to continue the conversation, feed the curious and provide college and career guidance.
It would be a beautiful thing to see such a great program as Advertising Futures duplicated in other major markets. The top 10 markets hold the highest percentage of Hispanic, African American and Asian populations (as Alberto Ferrer pointed out in his blog). These markets are also home to many successful advertising agency offices that can duplicate the NYC efforts and build national momentum. These agencies can probably learn much from these young trendsetters.
It is not enough to invest in a week (or an internship for that matter) and not provide continuity, support and a relationship. Isn't that what we tell our clients about why they should invest in brand building, customer-relationship building, and retaining customers long term? It also applies in working towards building a great demand and enthusiasm from more diverse minds to solve the ad industry's challenges and find client solutions.