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June 4, 2014

Adding it up

Just Do it. I’m lovin’ it. Have a Coke and a smile. Got Milk? Melts in your mouth, not in your hands. Think different. Tastes great, less filling. Don’t leave home without it. Think outside the bun. Because I’m worth it.

Advertising. Love it or hate it or even fast-forward through it, but you’ll never escape it. Americans are exposed to thousands of advertising images and sounds every single day. Television, radio, magazines, billboards, websites, the sides of buses, ballpark walls, clothing—ads are everywhere.

In just 30 seconds, ads have the ability to evoke emotion and feeling. Who hasn’t found themselves tearing up watching a Hallmark commercial or the Budweiser ad with the puppy and the horse? Or the Pampers Mother’s Day ad? And don’t get me started on Sarah McLachlan and the anti-animal abuse commercial—I literally have to change the channel to avoid crumbling into a weeping wreck on the floor.

Advertising can also make us smile or laugh, like the mini Darth Vader starting up a Volkswagen, Betty White hawking Snickers or a whole slew of beer and Doritos commercials.

Sure, much of advertising has a goal of getting people to buy products. But advertising isn’t always about sales. Advertising campaigns address social issues and help non-profits and government agencies. They can create awareness of public health issues and make people take action.

Keep America beautiful. A mind is a terrible thing to waste. This is your brain on drugs. Friends don’t let friends drive drunk. Only you can prevent forest fires. The few, the proud, the Marines.

Sometimes, profitable companies will use their advertising dollars to tackle societal issues—like Dove addressing body image, Coke wanting to teach the world to sing or Cheerios championing diversity.

Every single company, product, organization and group you can think of requires some sort of advertising or public relations to be successful. And all of those campaigns require a lot of creativity, time, hard work and some really talented people.

For more than 50 years, MSU’s Department of Advertising and Public Relations has been teaching students all of the skills needed to take the field by storm. With a rate of several hundred graduates a year, the numbers of Spartans working around the world in the field is impressive.

Jef Richards. chairman of the department, recently ran into three alumni—one working for the National Parks Conservation Association, another who is CEO of one of the top advertising agencies in the country and another who just retired from his job with the Washington Times. Each was fully committed to helping the department and finding ways to help current students break into the field. Read Richards' FACULTY VOICE: Embracing a shifting field, to learn more about his meetings and also some impressive faculty and student awards.

Even before they get out into the real world, students in the department have opportunities to try their hand at real-world experience. Recently, undergraduates in the Advanced Creative: Media I class worked with GET Longboards company, based in Grand Rapids, Mich. The company tasked the class to create designs for the company’s Outlaw series of longboards (a longer versions of a skateboard). All 40 designs will be put into production and the students’ bios will be featured on the company website. Read the STUDENT VIEW: Students GET onboard with experience, to learn more.

Try as you will, but I guarantee you won’t be able to escape being hit with advertising today. It’s part of who we are and it isn’t going anywhere. Luckily, we’ve got some great Spartans out there making their mark on the industry. Spartans Will.


Lisa Mulcrone
Editor, MSUToday