April 13, 2010



By Kurt Brokaw, Culture Editor

The header above is a sly reshuffle of the "Will Work For Food" theme positioning New York City's City Harvest, a major US food-rescue program. We're flagging the June 1 startup of "All About Advertising" the survey course taught for the past 22 years at The New School for General Studies, a part of New School University. MAJ promotes it here because advertising courses at the college level aren't recession-proof any more than humanities, social studies, or even a course in writing erotica called "Silk Sheets" which may be the closest thing to a cash cow The New School has offered over the last several decades. "All About Advertising" isn't targeting you if you're an active worker in Internet or other digital media advertising. You're the conduit--the pass-along third party--the one who'll forward this issue to a younger friend, neighbor, brother, sister, niece, nephew or (is this possible?) your own college- or high-school age daughter or son who's thinking advertising can't possibly be as bad as you keep lamenting at the dinner table, assuming you ever get home for dinner at all.

For years The New School routinely took two-page spreads in The New York Times to announce its Fall, Spring and Summer courses in various disciplines. Then the spreads dropped to a page, and then disappeared. Small-space fillers run in education sections along with the occasional subway car campaign, but these efforts are competitive place-holders that push the notion of starting a master's program or finishing a degree put on hold years ago. Individual instructors have to promote their own courses any way they can. And in this tanked economy many of us are struggling to build a minimum class of 10. Naturally there are flyers for "All About Advertising" and its fall "Big Idea" follow-up posted on campus building bulletin boards, but the real objective is building awareness beyond undergrads living in Greenwich Village dorms. So if you're intrigued with reading a syllabus for an introductory advertising course this summer, here it is:

"All About Advertising"
The New School for General Studies
Mondays & Wednesdays 6:00 to 7:50 p.m.
beginning Monday, June 1

The course may be taken for three credits. Three brief papers are assigned, each counting 25%. Your participation in class discussions counts the remaining 25%. Non-credit class members are welcome to do the assignments and receive critiques just like credit students. Everyone is encouraged to participate in discussions.

Our key text is "Buying In" by Rob Walker (Random House, 2008), list $25, excellent analyses of consumerism, advertising and marketing today. These will background many of our discussions and assignments. Available at B&N, 18th & Fifth, in NS section. (The Strand bookstore, 12th & Broadway, has had half-price review copies in its Marketing section in the basement level.) The second text is "Advertising Now. Online," Ed. Julius Wiedemann (Taschen, 2008), a lavishly illustrated history of Internet advertising. This has been available at the Strand, discounted from $40 to $29.95. You'll receive handouts from current media with latest advertising developments, and view many award-winning 2005-2008 commercials.

Our invited guests include Tim and Wendy McHale, principals of Madison Avenue Consultants, the digital media and Internet consultancy and editors of The Madison Avenue Journal, the daily ezine covering Internet and non-traditional advertising; Stephanie Blackwood, co-founder and account director of Double Platinum, the leading gay/lesbian advertising agency which also serves an increasing number of not-for-profit causes and institutions; and Anna Kate Roche (Lang '08), an interactive copywriter on Burger King, Microsoft, VW and Best Buy, at Crispin, Porter, Bogusky agency, in their Boulder office. We'll do our best to get them all in as their schedules permit


Course Objectives

The major objective this summer is to explore and understand the three most profound changes in the history of advertising, all of which have occurred in the past decade--the emergence of the Internet as a transforming advertising medium, the development of mobile smartphones and social networks like YouTube, Facebook, Google and MySpace as the powerful advertising media they have become and are becoming, and the impact of a global economic recession, which has radically altered advertising appeals and content.

The secondary objective is to provide a historical framework--mainly advertising's growth in the latter half of the 20th century--that established how ad agencies and their campaigns function in the marketing process. We want to see how advertising has grown brands into leadership positions in the marketplace as well as iconic presences in our individual lives, and how non-traditional media are affecting these brands.

The third objective is to examine ethical issues and concerns that permeate campaigns in various product categories--package goods, fashion, political campaigns, condoms and other leading-edge and edgy category brands.


Class Topics and Assignments

Our first five sessions will include an overview of the marketplace, the media marketplace, the changing consumer, and the evolving dynamics of advertising campaigns. The first assignment will tie your own experiences into the theories of "Buying In" as well as some of the viewpoints of Internet leaders expressed in "Advertising Now--Online."

Our second five sessions will include a detailed look at specific agencies and advertisers, elements of great campaigns and the relevance of research and testing. The second assignment will ask you to choose an interactive campaign from "Advertising now--Online" and deconstruct its behavioral targeting in terms of appeals, definition of the consumer, and how persuasively you think the campaign concept has been executed. .

Our concluding five sessions will cover ethics and accountability both in traditional media and in the twilight zone of non-traditional cable networks, cyberspace, guerilla and stealth marketing, as well as projections into the future of how we may respond to this ever-changing advertising universe. The third assignment will ask you to summarize the knowledge gained from your reading, our discussions, our guest speakers, and your own enlarged perceptions about how advertising influences your product perceptions and purchase decisions.

Your instructor is available to meet with you before and/or after any class as desired. Emails are welcome and answered promptly. Registration is available starting April 13th at New School for General Studies--Continuing Education, click onto Business and Management.

"All About Advertising" is an excellent course to take before "The Big Idea," a hands-on copy/design course in which students work in self-selected teams concepting a variety of assignments in both traditional and non-traditional media. "The Big Idea" was introduced several years ago and over 80 students have partnered each other in four previous semesters. It will be offered Monday nights from 8:00 to 9:50 p.m. starting in September, and is open for registration now. Syllabus is available--email brokawk@newschool.edu. "Will Work For Students" is a cute line, but it's also a dedicated life for your culture editor.


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