Sell me the world: Miami Ad Week takes Chicago by storm

October 2016

Elizabeth Jenike

Near the end of August 2016, just before the fall semester began, a group of 24 students made the trek to Chicago for the experience of a lifetime. They were there to visit some of the biggest advertising giants and get a true taste of the advertising world outside of their classrooms.

Miami Ad Week is a project-based immersive experience that allows students to network and gain experience in the advertising field. For four days, a carefully selected group of students - 51 applied, 24 were accepted - networked with Miami alumni currently working at companies like Carmichael Lynch, Trisect, Leo Burnett, Critical Mass, Cramer-Krasselt, Edelman, Twitter and, of course, FCB Chicago, which hosted the program for the week.

The students’ challenge was to design an ad campaign around a specific product within a specialized market. Once debriefed on the client - a well-known pharmaceutical manufacturer - each group picked a target market and began work on a presentation that would, at the end of the week, be pitched to the CEO of FCB Chicago.

What’s even cooler is that FCB will take the students’ ideas and incorporate them into a submission for the Cannes Film Festival.

One of the most important goals for the students during this experience was to develop key presentation and networking skills that will be useful throughout their careers. Through their visits to the different ad agencies around the Windy City, they networked with industry heavy-hitters and put themselves in the shoes of successful advertisers.

“Miami Ad Week is an experience that gives incredible insight into the advertising industry,” said senior marketing and interactive media studies major Callie McIntyre. “Through meeting the people who work in it, seeing the spaces they work in, and experiencing doing the work they do, Miami Ad Week provides a holistic taste of what the advertising industry is comprised of.”

Throughout the week, the students seek the answer to a specific question: Is this what I want to do for the rest of my life? For some, there is a near-audible click that resonates within them - after this experience, they know that advertising is the field they’re most passionate about, where they want to find themselves in five, ten, twenty years. Others are able to decide that the field isn’t their cup of tea. The immersive nature of the program allows the students to make these decisions with a confidence that wasn’t available to them before.

Junior marketing major Marissa Humayun felt that click. She recalls working hard to put her group’s presentation together the night before the projects were due - staying up until 5 a.m. in order to make sure every iota of information was perfect. And, where some would balk at the long hours and difficult subject matter, Marissa knew at that moment that this is what she wanted to do.

“I never considered advertising before last year, but this field is great way to include both consulting and creativity in my everyday life,” Marissa said. “I had my Aha! moment on this trip. You can only learn so much from a textbook - experiential learning and a tangible experience is the only way you’re going to absorb the information.”

“I fell in love with advertising and fell in love with Chicago at the same time,” Marissa declared. “It was an awesome shock.”

Miami students at conference table at Ad Week event in Chicago