We Don’t Need No Advertising Education

A few months ago, I incurred the wrath of some advertising professors who took exception to my Talent Zoo column about advertising education. One university department head sent me a snarky note at 11:00 at night and called me “vapid,” while another professor dug up my resume in an attempt to play “gotcha” with my own educational background. Not exactly Socratic debating techniques.
While I said that advertising programs need improvement, particularly in training future creatives, Livingston Miller, writing in Ad Age, goes much farther:

So why are so many college majors, let alone whole colleges, cropping up around the idea that advertising should be taught as an undergraduate course of study? I can understand why you’d seek training for some of our key tools — Photoshop for design, Illustrator for creative, Squad and Dart for media people. But that’s on a par with postgraduate study, which can home in on specifics.
But spend precious undergraduate years studying advertising? Not only are kids wasting their time, they’re underdeveloping their minds — and dimming the lights on the future of our business. There’s just too much precious learning to be had in science, history, art, literature, language and math. These majors are not only more interesting and personally rewarding in their own right, they are also more supportive of a career in advertising over the long run.

I wonder if any professors out there are willing to take Miller on. There are some colleges beefing up their ad programs, and I suspect they won’t like his perspective one bit.

UPDATE: And I was right about that last point. When I posted this on AdPulp there were only 2 comments on Miller’s article. Now there are 16 the morning after. Lots of Syracuse and VCU folks taking Miller to task. Although I do think their arguments would be just as effective if the arguments weren’t so personal and vitriolic. Because if that’s what they’re teaching in school, it’s a problem. You can’t talk to your clients or co-workers that way, even if they’re wrong and stupid–not if you want to stay employed, that is.

About Dan Goldgeier

Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. Dan is also a columnist for TalentZoo.com and the author of View From The Cheap Seats and Killer Executions and Scrubbed Decks.