School is back in session at Brigham Young University, and tucked away within the Brimhall Building is the BYU AdLab. The room is decorated to look like a professional ad agency and logos of clients hang around the room like trophies. Among the chatter of upbeat advertising students is a muffled, “I can’t, I’m not creative. I’m in the management track.”
Within the advertising program at BYU, there are two tracks, management and creative. BYU advertising professor, Mark Callister described the management track as the client-side of advertising. They manage the budget, timeline and the client’s success. Conversely, he described the creative track as consisting of wordsmiths, artists and producers. “They come up with the [content] that draws you in,” said Callister.
While students from both the management and creative tracks play a vital role in the success of an agency, members of the creative track definitely get more time in the limelight. But that does not diminish the importance of the management track.
For some students, the implied superiority may have its origins in the application process. Each semester 110 students are accepted into the advertising program. If they want to be in the creative track, they must submit another application. Only 30 of the 110 students are admitted into the creative track.
“I think that made people feel like the creatives were kind of an elite group,” said Callister. Students who aren’t admitted to the creative track are then automatically in the management track, as stated on the BYU catalog for the advertising program.
The idea that creatives are superior has also trickled down from the advertising industry culture, explained BYU advertising Associate Teaching Professor Kevin Kelly, “However, I think when management track students take Comms 337 students get a different perspective.” In Comms 337, management track students get an idea of their specific responsibilities on an advertising team. “Account management is the glue. Without it, everything absolutely falls apart,” said Kelly.
Kelly shared his experience as a creative working with account managers at Ogilvy. “The project lives or dies by the account manager. I worked with the best account managers who cared about me and loved the creative process. They didn’t have big egos and got the work done,” said Kelly.
Professor Kelly also recognized much of the attention for awards and other recognition go to the creative track. BYU Advertising professors are working hard to create more opportunities and focus on strategy awards so management track students can earn the limelight too.
The first efforts to place more of an emphasis on the management track included creating a new class where students create account management projects that can be submitted for national competitions. As a result, BYU Advertising management track students made the top 10 in the 2014 National Student Advertising Competition and won the National Collegiate Effie Award.
Senior advertising management track student Camden Buchanan finds fulfillment in his role as an account manager. “As an account manager, you are not getting the face time or credit that the creatives get, but that doesn’t mean that you’re not being recognized or not working. Creatives want to work with you because you are invested in their work.”
Buchanan found success by getting involved in the AdLab. By applying himself to the extracurricular opportunities in the AdLab, Buchanan feels that he gained creative skills is even though he is not in the creative track.
“The creative process is where you come up with ideas and answers to the problems the client is facing.” said Buchanan. Creatively solving problems for the client fits into the management track responsibilities. “Everyone is creative, but that doesn’t mean we are artistic,” Buchanan elaborated.
To advertising management track students who may think their role is that of a “boring office job,” Kelly recommends that students, “get involved with an AdLab project. That will help you learn to love the creative process and the process of working with clients and helping them solve their problems.”
Writer: Matthew Maddix
Disclaimer: This article was produced as part of the COMMS 425 lab.