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Randall Rothenberg makes some fine points in his "Eight basic steps to reform today's creative department" (Viewpoint, AA, Aug. 4) but I must take serious issue with his lead suggestion: that the industry ignore the talent coming out of creatively focused ad schools.

In fact, if Advertising Age had ignored these students, its same issue, with a cover feature on rising agency stars under 30, would have been minus a cover photo and another featured "star" inside.

Having been in the position at a major agency to hire new people coming into the creative department, I can attest that everyone starting out-in any discipline-is going to need training. The sad fact is agencies have largely abandoned their in-house training programs, which leaves the job of training fresh talent up to ad schools.

I believe so passionately about training young talent that I've left the agency side to become the managing director of the Virginia Commonwealth University Adcenter, a graduate program that has consistently produced sound strategic creative people who populate some of the best agencies in the world. Among them are some of the more daring agencies, including Crispin Porter & Bogusky, Wieden & Kennedy, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, Bartle Bogle Hegarty and Modernista!

I asked fellow creative directors their thoughts on Randall's column and here's what they had to say:

"The best programs range more widely than the traditional 30-second commercial, the award books, the well-trodden ground, all in an attempt to grow people that aren't like the ad school people Randall talks about."-Jeff Goodby, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners.

"Ad schools like the VCU Adcenter recruit from an extraordinarily diverse range of backgrounds and cultures. They instinctively approach problems in different ways, and are encouraged to do so. They are trained to think strategically as well as act creatively."-Jon Steel, WPP Group.

"Ad schools are where the top-notch portfolios are coming from. Unless you start out in the mail room (very few do), ad schools are the chief source of fresh new talent."-Phil Dusenberry.

"In these days of faster timetables and tighter margins, we no longer have the luxury of teaching by osmosis, or on-the-job training. We need entry-level creatives who are farther up the learning curve than students fresh out of undergraduate school, and more disciplined than over-the-transom candidates who think they are creative. Agencies would be up the creek without ad schools."-Flinn Dallis, director of creative operations, Leo Burnett USA

So while coming up with fresh new ways to solve problems is vital to our industry, so I believe are ad schools.

Rick Boyko

Managing Director

VCU Adcenter

Richmond, Va.

In his column, Mr. Rothenberg wrote, "Stop hiring creatives from advertising schools. It's difficult to think outside the box if you're hiring from the same boxes year in and year out. Moreover, the schools' expertise is in tutoring students in what has worked before."

Indigestion from `The Restaurant'

Just wanted to let you know how much I agree with Scott Donaton's `"Restaurant' serves up lesson in how not to integrate brands" (Viewpoint, AA, Aug. 11). We were approached to do a partnership a while back and I am quite thankful we had the foresight to pass.

As an avid TV viewer, it's frustrating to me when product placement is done in a way that is outright offensive. I truly think we are obligated as advertisers to find a way to execute product placement in an intelligent, thoughtful and organic way that makes sense to viewers. In fact, when done best, product placement should be like brilliant editing, transparent and seamless. Donaton's article echoed my thoughts exactly.

Ruth Behr

VP-Media Supervisor

Universal McCann

Los Angeles

`Restaurant' placements are vulgar and abrasive

While I couldn't agree more with Scott Donaton's `"Restaurant' serves up lesson in how not to integrate brands" (Viewpoint, AA, Aug. 11) [about] its vulgar, abrasive product integration, I still can't help but watch the show. It's not like I'm your average, product-integration-ignorant TV viewer. As a principal at a marketing agency that offers product integration as a service, and frequently provides thought leadership on the subject, it's a theme that hits quite close to home.

Why do I continue to watch? As Donaton wrote, "It's riveting, but only in the car-wreck sense." Given everything people in our industry know about product integration and innovative sponsorships, I'm amazed TV producers (and programmers and ad sales execs) continue to test the limits of our tolerance

Jonathan Margolis

Michael Alan Group

New York


* In "Contextual ads gather steam" (Aug. 11, P. 34), it was incorrectly stated that WeatherBug is distributed by music download site Kazaa. In addition, WeatherBug said it does not track consumer surfing habits.

* In the profile of Paul Olsen ("Twentysomethings" Special Report, Aug. 4, P. S-2), the Web site DetroitPirateRadio.com was misidentified as DetroitPirate.com.

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