Perks and Ping Pong

paddles1During my senior year in college, one of my final portfolio courses was taught by an art director/copywriter team from Publicis. Halfway through the semester they took us on a tour of their offices and, for whatever reason, I remember being so impressed by the fact that the creative department had its own ping pong table. As a poor college student who had only worked hourly jobs for minimum wage, I was incredulous. You mean, you get to play ping pong… on the clock? Right then and there, I knew that I had chosen the right major – advertising.

Since then I’ve been able to reverse roles and take several groups of students to New York to tour some of the most respected ad agencies in the world. Each place has its own story, personality, strengths and weaknesses. But every single one of them has a ping pong table.

Now, by “ping pong table” I mean some kind of perk or feature of the agency that makes it a more attractive or convenient place to work. In some cases the “ping pong table” is a foosball table. In smaller shops it’s a free beer cart on Fridays. In the bigger agencies it’s an onsite barber, doctor or daycare, a state-of-the-art workout facility, full-time masseuse or a rooftop patio with a million dollar view (and wifi, of course). It’s always fun and a bit nostalgic for me to watch the faces of my students light up as each new tour guide tries to one-up the previous agency with some previously unimaginable perk that makes work more fun and life more convenient.

(Cue grizzled agency veteran on a mission to disabuse students of their wide-eyed naiveté)
“It’s a trap! Don’t fall for it, kids!”

It’s hard to see how free beer and neck massages could be a bad thing. But you don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to see the potential danger in some of the more elaborate fringe benefits. There is a fine line between conveniences that make our busy lives more manageable, and conveniences that make it so we never have to leave work. Does the agency offer a doctor on-site to keep their employees happy and healthy? Or because they’re running their people ragged? Do they offer on-site daycare because they care about your family, or because it tricks you into working even longer hours?

After my students have had a chance to revel in their ping pong moment, I typically initiate a fireside chat about three options:

1). You can become a burned-out workaholic with titles, money and perks galore.
2). You can become an ungrateful cynic who is needlessly suspicious of your employer’s generosity.
3). You can understand the difference between means and ends.

I’ll save the first two points for another time because it’s the third that really holds the key to successfully navigating the whole issue. Whether or not an employer has ulterior motives for offering perks like these doesn’t really matter at the end of the day if you keep your desired end distinct from the means necessary to attain it. If your end goal is to get married, have a family and live happily ever after in the suburbs, then take advantage of whatever perks your employer offers to make your desired end a reality. If your end goal is to see your name in all the award books and earn a six-figure income by the time you’re 30, then use whatever perks your employer offers to make that end a reality. I’m not trying to suggest that you can have it all – we all have to make sacrifices and sometimes you have to make tough choices between competing goods. All I’m trying to say is that most people want more out of life than an agency with a ping pong table. So, don’t treat the agency you’re working at or the ping pong table like they’re an end in themselves.

There is one complication, though: this whole ends-and-means thing can get a little tricky for those who are trying to break in to the advertising industry. The harsh reality is that, while you’re young, you will be expected to work a near-impossible number of hours. But again, I suppose this is the way it is in most highly-competitive professions – not just advertising. If this is where you find yourself, you will have to make a list of two kinds of ends: provisional ends (i.e., short term goals) and final ends (i.e., long term goals).

Take for example a former art direction student of mine who had the long term goal of being married, with a family and working as a film director on the west coast. From this final end he worked backward to figure out what his provisional ends needed to be after he graduated. This process led him to accept a job at an agency known for doing great work, but also for being somewhat of a sweat shop. And even though he worked like a crazy man for two solid years, he kept his head on straight, saved his money and built a solid portfolio. All of this opened the door at a great agency in NYC that would give him opportunities to work with great film directors. From here he built up his reel, made a lot of important industry connections and 3 years later he and his lovely wife were on their way to LA to start his first solo directing job.

Granted, every story doesn’t work out as planned. Advertising is a volatile industry that requires a certain openness to change and the unknown. But the moral of the story is, don’t let short term perks distract you from your long term goals. There are many things about a career in advertising that can lead to burnout or an unhealthy work/life balance. But all professions have their Sirens. At the same time, some of the best things about a career in advertising are the many perks, options, relationships and connections that you can use to your advantage wherever your journey takes you – that is, if you can keep your head on straight.

Mark Allen, Lecturer


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Design from the Heart 

MendenhallCherylBy Cheryl Mendenhall, Senior Lecturer

Here at the Temerlin Advertising Institute we stress the importance of responsibility in advertising, whether that is professional responsibility, social responsibility, or the everyday choices we make in our field. My focus is in graphic design, and I wanted to share with you some of the many ways design can be used for the greater good. It can be small things like using recycled paper or soy ink in a project or something big like designing a way for people to communicate in health care situations where there may be a language barrier.

Many non-profits struggle to get their message heard; we as designers can help develop strategies and create materials to accomplish their unique goals.

HRMYou may know immediately what cause speaks to you, but if not, there are many resources available to help you find a connection. American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) has a program called Design for Good described as “a movement to ignite, accelerate and amplify design-driven social change.” On their website they showcase inspiring projects and provide a wide variety of resources including ways for connecting designers and non-profits, groups that provide learning opportunities, and sources for funding and support grants for your self-initiated projects.

Or how about this? What do you get when you combine creatives, non-profits and a super quick deadline? A fantastic idea for helping out non-profits – a 24-hour createathon. Now that’s a GOOD reason to pull an all-nighter.

Here are some projects I find interesting:KZoo

I began working with non-profits early in my career as a way to give back when I didn’t have the money to donate. I continue to do it now because it brings me joy.

How we use our skills is up to us. I encourage you to find something that speaks to your heart and share your skills.

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Temerlin Advertising Institute Hosts Dr. Padmini Patwardhan from Winthrop University as 2015-2016 Research Fellow

Dr. Patwardhan visited TAI last week to undertake research related to leadership issues in the advertising industry. She spent her week interviewing faculty and industry professionals to gain insight into the leadership process. She will also be undertaking interviews with executives in NYC. During her visit, she was able to interact with faculty and get to experience a taste of Texas fun at the Katy Trail Ice House.

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Temerlin Advertising Institute (TAI) at Southern Methodist University is a research-oriented institute composed of distinguished faculty with both industry and academic backgrounds. The purpose of the TAI Research Fellows program is to foster research collaboration and provide catalysts for advancing our understanding of the field of advertising.



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TAI Student Tien Dang Completes Internship at Publicis HCG in NYC

In February, SMU Advertising major (’16) Tien Dang was selected for the 2015 Multicultural Advertising Internship Program (MAIP). Read about her experience summer internship experience below. IMG_6731

“This summer, I interned at Publicis HCG. I was also a part of MAIP (Multicultural Advertising Internship Program). In simpler terms, I participated in an intensive advertising internship. From 9am-5pm, I’d work on projects at my internship. This ranged from planning social events for the office, to writing copy for clients, and even working on an unbranded depression app for the Apple Watch for our intern project. At 5pm, I’d go home to grab dinner and would continue to work from 6-10pm, sometimes even later on MAIP’s project partnering with Weiden + Kennedy on a Nike campaign.

IMG_6246My first day in New York was a scene right out of a movie. I managed to get myself to Target via subway, but had no idea how to get back home. The Uber driver who picked me up not only offered me his mixtape and a date the following weekend, but also dropped me off no where near where I needed to be. My phone died and my friends that I somehow managed to find accidentally put me on the wrong train home. When I finally made it back, I realized that between lugging my purchases from Target around town, and grabbing dinner, I had lost my ID to get into my room. I was feeling discouraged, but was hopeful for better days to come.

IMG_6698As the summer moved forward, I became more acquainted with the city and the people that came with it. The one thing that I loved most about interning in NYC and being apart of MAIP was that I had 80 other friends who were experiencing the same things I was. We made each other laugh, cooked dinner when someone was too busy to feed themselves, and always made it a point to keep everyone motivated. As interns and fellows, we learned to work hard and save some time to play as well. We filled our free days with visits to Coney Island, stuffing our faces with delicious food at Smorgasburg, and appreciating all of the art that NYC had to offer.

By August, my internship was coming to a bittersweet end. MAIP celebrated with a week long Face of Talent program. Not only was I able to network with some of advertising’s best agencies, but I was also awarded ANA’s Multicultural Excellence Scholarship, which will help me finish out my last year at SMU. I left New York with a renewed passion for advertising, as well as an appreciation for how far I had come that summer. There aren’t many things I know for certain, but I do know that this isn’t the last that New York has seen of me.”

The 4A’s Multicultural Advertising Intern Program (MAIP) connects aspiring diverse entry- level advertising professionals with prestigious advertising agencies. Since its inception in 1973, MAIP offers multicultural students a unique paid, full-time summer internship at 4A’s participating agencies nationwide, combining real-world work experience, networking opportunities within the industry, and a valuable professional credential to better position themselves in the marketplace. Simultaneously, the program offers advertising agencies the opportunity to access top talent and strengthens the 4A’s efforts to enhance the workforce diversity of our industry.

The 2016 MAIP application deadline is October 30, 2015.

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Marketing Communications Should Build Relationships

Having the privilege to teach in The Temerlin ADVERTISING Institute, I was thinking about my current graduate course, Consumer Engagement Strategies, and the concept of “advertising.”
After much thought, I simply no longer believe that advertising is a particularly relevant or needed construct to describe the way marketing communications is currently practiced.

Advertising. Public Relations. Social Media. Corporate Communications. Sales Promotion. Media. Where does one end and the other begin?

Each of the above distinctions are a product of a bygone era that are quickly eroding. In my mind the quicker the better! These terms describe particular job functions that should no longer be the focus of our attention. Rather we must focus broadly on the purpose of communicating; building relationships.

advertisingCredit to Hugh MacLeod

For example, advertising has often been defined as, “…the nonpersonal communication of information usually paid for and usually persuasive in nature about products, services or ideas by identified sponsors through the various media.”(Bovee, 1992, p. 7). Such a definition tells what advertising was, but not why it was used. And it certainly does not capture what modern advertising agencies do…they build relationships.

Until 2012, the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) defined public relations as “helping an organization and its publics adapt mutually to each other.” A modern definition suggests, “Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”

But these mutually beneficial relationships are not the exclusive domain of PR or any communications discipline. All of the above traditional communications disciplines define different processes to communicate with those with whom they interact. People in advertising use terms like customers, targets, segments, and opinion leaders. People in public relations call them stakeholders. Social media specialists look for evangelists and influencers.

All marketing communications [should] have the goal of building relationships. Building relationships requires engaging with people. The best way to engage people is to serve them, provide them something of value.

Messages are valuable to the degree they are relevant to another party. Messages provide value by either informing or entertaining. Whether the end result of the interaction is transactional or something longer-term, serving people should be the goal.

Serving people solves problems, creates good will, and builds relationships.

Is this advertising, public relations, sales promotion, or …?


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TAI and SMU’s Ad Club Kickoff Party – Ozona Grill

What better way to start off the 2015-2016 academic year than with new and old advertising students, faculty and staff, as well as a great venue and food!

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Monday, August 31st, TAI and SMU’s Ad Club hosted a kickoff party at Ozona Grill& Bar. Good food, good friends and good conversations. The pictures capture the fun. Here’s to a successful and productive school year for everyone.

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TAI Graduate Backyard BBQ Mixer

A great time was had by new and returning MA in advertising students as well as TAI Faculty & Staff last week at the home of Professor Noble, Co-ordinator of the TAI MA in Advertising program.  

4 Steve gives thanks speach  5 Bruce-Cheryl-Erica-Colleen-MustafizStudents representing several states and countries from as far away as Bangladesh and mainland China attended. The weather was great and everyone had a chance to mix and mingle before the hard work begins.

7 Preston-Diana-Marin-Erica-April-Snow-2016 MA cohort 8 Alice-Peter-David BBQ cooking

For more information on the TAI Master’s in Advertising program, click here.

9 Amber&Kevin at BBQ 12 Katie & Cady

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TAI Welcomes Incoming 2015 Cohort to New Undergraduate Advertising Curriculum

On Thursday August 20th, the Temerlin Advertising Institute (TAI) held orientation for newly admitted advertising majors. Over 50 students attended along with the entire team of faculty & staff. Institute t-shirts were given away to these exceptional students while faculty presented their backgrounds along with faculty expectations of this selected group of majors.

1 TAI UG Orientation-groupStudents pursuing a B.A. in advertising now have the opportunity to focus their studies in one of three areas: creative, digital media strategy or strategic brand management. Director of the Temerlin Advertising Institute, Dr. Steve Edwards claims, “We are creating students who are a value-add to agencies and marketing companies right from graduation.”

The new students had to undertake a competitive advertising application as well ascomplete a video application for the specialization. TAI Faculty reviewed all applications to select the best candidates to admit.  Edwards, said “The new curriculum is cutting edge and intended to make our students even more valuable in the field. We are training them in all the important traditional areas of advertising, but also working to better meet the demands of a technology inundated, fast paced, and results driven 21st Century advertising industry.”

2 TAI Faculty-Staff Orientation

Courses in the new curriculum range from Digital Media Landscapes to Digital Media Strategy and Media Measurement and Metrics as well as Strategic Brand Management, Research, Account Planning and Business Communication. All tracks will take a capstone campaigns course where they will work to solve a problem for a real world client.

For more information about the undergraduate curriculum in advertising, click here!

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TAI Student Su Hyun Han Completes Internship at McCann Detroit

In February, SMU junior and Advertising major Su Hyun Han was selected for the 2015 Multicultural Advertising Intern Program (MAIP) for the summer and has now completed her internship. Read about her experience below.

“I didn’t know whphoto-2[1]at to expect from my first agency experience let alone in Birmingham, Michigan, but I loved it! The people at McCann Detroit were so kind and welcoming and accommodating. When I realized that I didn’t want to do account management they let me help out in creative. I became close friends with the fellow interns who were in creative. We brainstormed together, ate lunch together and came up with our first ads together.  I felt truly sad to leave McCann Detroit, but I am so thankful to have my first internship there. Detroit also has so much to offer as a city. It is growing and the people there are proud of their city. Going to New York was also a great experience. I heard from so many inspiring people in the industry and was able to make connections at the career fair. Our group also won the Nike X Wieden+Kennedy campaign. We called ourselves the Elite 6, and it was so rewarding to find out our win after countless hours we spent on the project. I am so glad that I was able to do MAIP because it gave me so many experiences and opportunities I would not have otherwise.”

IMG_1464[1]The 4A’s Multicultural Advertising Intern Program (MAIP) connects aspiring diverse entry- level advertising professionals with prestigious advertising agencies. Since its inception in 1973, MAIP offers multicultural students a unique paid, full-time summer internship at 4A’s participating agencies nationwide, combining real-world work experience, networking opportunities within the industry, and a valuable professional credential to better position themselves in the marketplace. Simultaneously, the program offers advertising agencies the opportunity to access top talent and strengthens the 4A’s efforts to enhance the workforce diversity of our industry.

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TAI Faculty & Staff Hold August Annual Retreat at The Marketing Arm

On Wednesday August 19th the Temerlin Advertising Institute (TAI) spent the day at The Marketing Arm in Dallas. The Director of The Temerlin Advertising Institute, Dr. Steven 2015-08-19 TAI-TMA-LunchM. Edwards, implemented a “Dallas Advertising Agency” retreat several years ago to grow deeper relationships with agencies while also encouraging a sharing of knowledge between industry and academia. According to Edwards, “We share insights with the best minds in the industry.” Slingshot, Publicis, The Richards Group and now The Marketing Arm have all played host.

Ray Clark-CEO TMAThe Marketing Arm Founder & CEO Ray Clark kicked off the morning. We were immersed in the latest in social media and activation experiences with the 20 slide – 20 seconds each PechaKucha presentation style from the Insights  & Planning team. The business team discussed some of their difficulties and hiring needs, while Alyson Breslyn, the Recruiting Manager spoke with us about their new training program for recent graduates.

A surprise visit from TAI alumni who heard we were in the building gave a lift to the afternoon. Dr. Steven Edwards said “It is always awesome and TAI Faculty visit with TAI Alumni @ TMArewarding to see our former students happy and thriving in industry.” Much appreciation goes out to The Marketing Arm for sharing their space and their precious time!




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