The University of Arizona

Student-Run Ad Agency Successful in First Year

By Ariel Flowers, University Communications | May 14, 2010

AdCats began taking on clients in September and has since worked on 18 projects for groups on and off campus.

AdCats team members, left to right, include Dana Fors, Nicole Scher, Korey Burns and Liz Tanori. One of the group's largest project this year was  volunteering for the Jim Click Automotive Team during the UA's Earth Day celebration. (Photo credit: Joming Huang)
AdCats team members, left to right, include Dana Fors, Nicole Scher, Korey Burns and Liz Tanori. One of the group's largest project this year was volunteering for the Jim Click Automotive Team during the UA's Earth Day celebration. (Photo credit: Joming Huang)

Since its launch in September, AdCats has taken on 18 projects, working with the University of Arizona School of Dance, Biosphere 2, American Marketing Association and other groups on and off campus.

AdCats, the first UA student-run advertising agency, operates out of the Eller College of Management, providing experience for students interested in marketing, communication and graphic design. 

The agency is now taking applications for the 2010-11 academic year. 

"AdCats has the potential to be a big organization," said Liz Tanori, a UA senior majoring in marketing and visual communication and one of the students who worked to get the team started.

"Anyone who is interested in advertising – no matter what aspect you're interested in – it's going to be a rewarding opportunity," Tanori said. "This is a perfect venue." 

The agency, which is part of the UA chapter of the American Advertising Federation, or AAF, began as the brainchild of Edward Ackerley, a UA adjunct instructor of marketing and media arts.

Ackerley said he wanted to provide students interested in advertising a place to explore and worked with Robert Lusch, the UA's Lisle and Roslyn Payne Professor of Marketing, to form the advertising agency. 

"I wanted to create a team that would give students a real-world experience, with real clients, real budgets and real timelines," Ackerley said. "The experiment has gone well." 

Ackerley said business has been good so far with clients expressing satisfaction with the energy, passion and excitement the students have shown with projects.

AdCats does business within and outside the campus community. Its biggest project to date has been with Ford Motor Co., promoting the Ford Fiesta to college students.

This included hosting "Little Ford Fiestas" and a YouTube contest about why the Ford Fiesta is good for college students. 

The hope is that AdCats will find its niche catering primarily to UA-based clubs and organizations.  

Because an advertising major is not offered at the UA, there are hopes that AdCats will become a resource for students who are interested in advertising, allowing them to test the waters and see if it is really something they want to do.   

Students do not get paid, and most of the profit from projects goes back to support the UA's AAF chapter and its events and other activities. Students, however, do receive internship credit.

To be part of the agency, which coincides with a marketing course, students are interviewed and accepted, rather then just signing up like they would for a regular class. Tanori said that to become part of the team, a fierce sense of independence and drive to get things done on time is needed.

"For me, it's been pretty rewarding because I've been able to take an agency model and build it from scratch. It's been a real learning experience," Tanori said.

Dana Fors, who also works on the team, agreed the real value of the program is the real-world experience students receive such as working with companies like Ford.

"It lets you know if this is something you really want to do," Fors said. "It gives you more of a hands-on experience."

Contacts

Edward Ackerley

Eller College of Management

520-546-9707

ackerley@email.arizona.edu