Like the advertising profession, the way that marketing and advertising are taught is also at a crossroads.
Truth be told, in today's education system in the United States, it is incredibly difficult to teach creativity. With the rise of rubrics and streamlined instruction and the demand to produce data rather than product, creativity takes a dive. It is hard to say to students that it is okay to fail when failing is penalized rather than seen as a way to discovery.
Not to mention that the cause and effect of education moves the AdLand industry to discover future advertising professionals using alternative methods. Several agencies have proudly (or ignorantly) proclaimed that they will search for creative talent using social networks and new media rather than hiring out of colleges, universities, and job sites. These agencies believe that the system that is producing future marketing professionals is inherently flawed.
With us straddling both worlds, it is hard to disagree.
So what do we do? Do we raise Cain and demand agency recruiters correct their thinking? Or do we accept the inevitable and change the way advertising and marketing students are taught?
We met with our former college advisor recently and this topic came up. She said that "the way people will learn and go to school will be totally different in ten years." She also mentioned that "marketing will be considered a trade."
We believe her; already, the increasing popularity of MOOCs has caused people to flock to more nontraditional means of learning. Colleges are seeing the trend and are offering certified courses online for a fraction of the cost they would offer on campus. Could we see tests and certifications like the AMA's Professional Certified Marketer (PCM) or the PRSA's Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) garner more attention as colleges and universities get more expensive and less relevant?
It is not an impossibility.
We agree that marketing and advertising will be considered trades. We already call ourselves practitioners; adding the trade designation could create a new funnel of professionals who could abandon the current education model and do something faster, more agile, and more specific.
We even proposed something more dramatic a while ago: agency-supported Ad Schools. Now, looking at the trends and agencies' quest for the best and brightest, perhaps creating your own spawning pool is not a bad idea.
How advertising and marketing affect the marketplace will continue to morph. As that happens, it would be foolish to think that the training of advertising and marketing practitioners would stay the same.
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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