Views on Advertising Curricula from Experienced 'Creatives'
Otnes, Cele, Oviatt, Arlo A., Treise, Deborah M., The Journalism Educator
The creative function is typically the most visible--and often regarded as the most important--aspect of the advertising profession. However, the lack of research exploring issues pertaining to advertising creativity does not reflect its "real-world" importance. Indeed, Zinkhan (1993) has recently argued that academics should devote more attention to understanding "the creative spark which drives much of advertising [and] the creative process which underlies business decision-making."(1)
Two groups that would no doubt benefit greatly from this type of research are the educators responsible for courses pertaining to advertising creativity, and the students enrolled in these courses. Expanding our understanding of advertising creativity would enable academics to be more effective in the classroom, and would enable students to receive more up-to-date, relevant instruction. Furthermore, opportunity exists for researchers to supplement the advice of educators and creative recruiters who have discussed issues such as advertising creativity,(2) copywriting,(3) and design,(4) by exploring the perspectives of practicing copy writers and art directors with regard to these issues.
Two recent studies enlisted the aid of "new" creatives (those employed less than two years) to help educators provide students with "real-world" perspectives of advertising creativity. The first identified the experiential and personality characteristics shared by these creatives, such as restlessness, confidence, and persistence.(5) The second study explored the types of skills these creatives felt were important for students to acquire in the classroom, as well as what types of backgrounds could help aspiring creatives secure agency positions.(6) The authors noted examining these issues with a sample of more experienced copywriters and art directors would prove worthwhile.
This paper acts upon the above suggestion, by comparing the perspectives of more experienced art directors and copywriters to those of the "new" creatives. By so doing, we can gain an understanding of what educational experiences remain salient as creatives progress in their careers. Thus, the same research questions explored in the earlier study are examined here. These are: (a) What do experienced creatives believe is necessary from advertising creative courses in particular? (b) Which courses, besides advertising courses, do experienced creatives believe are beneficial to aspiring creatives? To capitalize on our informants' wider range of experiences, we broadened the third question addressed in the original study, which explored the techniques creatives used to supplement their undergraduate educations. Thus, we ask: (c) What specific advice do experienced creatives have for students wishing to create portfolios and secure jobs in advertising agencies?
During August and September of 1993, the second author completed a series of in-depth interviews with art directors and copywriters employed in the midwest headquarters of an advertising agency with global billings of approximately $4.5 billion.(7) A qualitative approach was employed in order to understand what educational experiences these creatives believed were most valuable to them in their careers. It has been observed that qualitative methods are underutilized by advertising researchers,(8) although they are enjoying a resurgence in advertising and related disciplines.(9)
The sample for this study included six copywriters and five art directors, employed in advertising for an average of 6.1 years. Eight were male and three were female; all but one were college graduates. Ten of the eleven informants held degrees in visual or communications disciplines (Figure 1). Moreover, they had held an average of 3.7 advertising-related j obs, compared to 1.7 jobs for the new creatives.(10)
The basic interviewing procedure employed is outlined in McCracken.(11) The researcher followed an interview schedule, but also encouraged informants to discuss emerging topics relating to advertising creativity and/or advertising education. …