Students try the real world of advertising - McKinney

Students try the real world of advertising

April 8, 2008

Christina Evans expected stark white walls and workers hunched in their cubicles. But upon entering the swanky downtown offices of McKinney, the Northern High School student found an inspiring, open space charged with creative energy. It was the type of place she might like to work one day.

Evans and about a dozen other students will get the chance sooner than they might have expected. The marketing students from Northern and Riverside high schools learned Monday that they’ll work with McKinney employees to create ad campaigns aimed at curbing teen pregnancies.

The students who create the best ads will win a trip to New York City in September to take part in a national competition and could see their ads printed in The New York Times.

“We’re not intimidated,” said Northern student Jessica McDade as she sat in a conference room. “We’re excited.” McKinney drew up the partnership with Durham Public Schools just a few weeks ago, an idea born of the company’s challenges in recruiting job candidates with diverse backgrounds.

‚ÄúTalent and diversity are things that we are constantly looking for,‚Äù said Joni Madison, McKinney’s chief operating officer. ‚ÄúWe thought we had a great opportunity here to start introducing students to the industry.‚Äù

Through the firsthand experience, students will have three weeks to dream, plan and execute newspaper ads that speak to teenage boys and girls. McKinney’s employees will coach the students, then choose a winning team.

The exercise is just a rehearsal for the big show, the September competition called “Advertising Futures,” sponsored by the American Association of Advertising Agencies.

‚ÄúAdvertising is a career that will let them be creative but is still something that is legitimate in the business arena,‚Äù said Walt Barron, a senior account planner. ‚ÄúThey don’t have to crunch numbers … to do something that helps the economy.‚Äù