SOJ Insider | Omnicom Speakers

Omnicom professionals speak to advertising students

By Patty Irizarry

Students at the School of Journalism had the opportunity to learn about future careers in advertising from Omnicom Group advertising professionals in Spring 2008. Omnicom is the world’s largest marketing and communications company, with more than 5,000 clients worldwide.

Representatives from two Omnicom companies – Hall & Partners and in:site – visited WVU in February and demonstrated to SOJ students exciting new trends in advertising research.

Terry Willie, Hall & Partners’ group chief executive, spoke to advertising students in Dr. Elizabeth Taylor Quilliam’s advertising research methods class.

During the presentation, Willie told students that their jobs would be harder than his because of current trends in digital and interactive advertising. He added, however, that traditional television and print advertising will not disappear. The digital revolution, according to Willie, is the “golden age of communication.”

Also in February, Ariane Vena, in:site’s lead analyst, stressed the importance of ethnography in advertising research. Ethnography is a behavioral science that includes interviewing and observation to help understand peoples’ behaviors and habits. Vena said strategic insights and recommendations are then developed based on that research.

Vena showed video clips of how research teams gather information for their clients. One clip, filmed for a pharmaceutical company, showed the ethnographer talking to an older man with diabetes and heart disease. While riding in a car, the man talked about how he had changed his diet and was eating only healthy foods. A few minutes later, they were in a restaurant eating breakfast, and the man had ordered bacon and eggs and was dumping salt all over his food.

“That’s a good example of how ethnographers document the difference between what people say and what they really do,” said Quilliam.

Dr. Tom Harrison, a WVU alumnus and chief executive officer of Diversified Agency Services, a division of Omnicom, facilitated bringing the guest speakers to campus. Harrison is the sponsor of the Harrison/Omnicom Professor of Advertising, held by Quilliam.

“I think my students definitely benefited from the presentation,” said Quilliam. “It was an opportunity to be exposed to senior executives. It was really valuable and gave them a different perspective from reading a textbook.”

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