Spartan Ad Club Visits Six New York City Advertising Agencies

Is there a better way to experience the cutting edge world of advertising than experiencing it first hand? That’s exactly what members of the Spartan Ad Club, SJSU’s student chapter of the American Advertising Federation, did at the end of February. Braving freezing temperatures, a group of mainly juniors and seniors from the advertising program visited six of the world’s leading advertising agencies over a four day period.

The trip, organized by John Delacruz, Creative Advertising Associate Professor was in its third year and this time the packed week delivered the best experience yet. Monday morning, bright and early, kick-started the program with a visit to Vayner Media. This agency, with offices worldwide, is the brainchild of Gary Vaynerchuk, serial entrepreneur and social media influencer. They are known for their innovation in the digital space and work with clients like Budweiser, Pepsico and Diageo.

Each visit began with an introduction to the agency’s philosophy and work, followed by an open discussion with a panel of creatives, strategists, managers and, crucially, recruitment directors. Vayner set the tone for a series of encouraging and informative sessions where internships and career advice formed the heart of frank discussions.

That afternoon Professor Delacruz took the group to Strawberry Frog whose offices are in the iconic Empire State Building. Strawberry Frog discussed their approaches to solving business problems for clients as diverse as Sun Trust and Jim Beam. Internship schemes were announced and students eagerly exchanged LinkedIn details with the agency staff.

Both Vayner Media and Strawberry Frog are considered the two independent, young upstarts of the agencies visited. On the second day, students visited the two big hitters of the trip FCB and R/GA. FCB ran through case studies of recent work for the FDA Center for Tobacco Products. Little Lungs in a Great Big World is a stop-motion animated tragicomedy public service announcement series that is part of a campaign named The Real Cost. They also showcased work for Burger King, detailing process and results. At R/GA students were introduced to a former student from the SJSU advertising program who is now Global Director of Creative Recruiting. R/GA highlighted its internship program and the possibility of having greater involvement with SJSU’s program in the future.

On Wednesday morning, students hopped on the train to Brooklyn to visit the Frida Kahlo exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum and met up with another SJSU grad in the evening. Darren Mitchell is an Account Manager at Ogilvy and he talked to students in a social setting, offering advice on the industry and detailing his journey from San Jose to the Big Apple.

The final day was also packed full with a visit to TBWA/Chiat/Day. Students viewed show reels of work, and participated in a conversation with two recruiters, one from Creative Services and another from Account Services. The afternoon visit required a train ride to Brooklyn to visit 72 and Sunny whose offices sit under the Brooklyn Bridge. The staff at 72 were in full swing with their Black History Month celebrations that included art and dance inside the agency itself. There was also another panel discussion and an invitation to apply for internships.

“The trip ended on a high note with a group meal at Julianna’s, the popular Brooklyn pizza joint with a wealth of history and the best pizzas in the world ever,” recalls Professor Delacruz.

“The students agreed that the experience was extremely valuable and brought them a step closer to achieving their dreams of working in the advertising industry, whether that takes them to Madison Avenue or the Bay Area. A good and fruitful time was had by all.”

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