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Book Review: Advertising for the Curious: Why Study Advertising?

This book is for aspiring advertising students who want to glimpse the future of advertising and how it is being taught in America.
BY Uttara Choudhury |   18-05-2016

Co-author Margaret Duffy is a communication expert.

Advertising for the Curious: Why Study Advertising? by Jef Richards and Margaret Duffy, published by Curious Academy Publishing.

Strong jawed, crisply dressed and pomaded, advertising executive Don Draper made this pronouncement in the wildly popular "Mad Men" television drama: "Advertising is based on one thing: happiness. And you know what happiness is? Happiness is the smell of a new car. It's freedom from fear. It's a billboard on the side of the road that screams reassurance that whatever you are doing is OK."

"Mad Men" reminded people about what the essence of advertising is: It's about ideas, creativity and personality. If you have these qualities you might be a shoe-in for the advertising industry made incredibly sexy by Jon Hamm playing maverick adman Don Draper.

It’s a wonderful career move for bold creative thinkers and if you are intrigued after binge-watching "Mad Men," a good starting point would be reading "Advertising for the Curious." Written by Professor Jef Richards from Michigan State University and Professor Margaret Duffy from the University of Missouri, the book discusses the future of advertising and brims with thought-provoking questions. Advertising and strategic communication professors talk about how they are trying to create the right talent pipeline for the fast-paced advertising industry.

The book is divided into twelve chapters with essays and pointers on advertising and marketing from professors from different universities. Some of the chapters are uneven in terms of quality, but students will find great advice about networking and internships. The book encourages both domestic and international students to join the Public Relations Society of America and the American Advertising Federations. "Both these organizations have various opportunities for students including scholarships, student competitions and conferences," points out the book.

What are ad agencies looking for and how can students break through the clutter and get their attention? Two words: Social Media. The book notes that advertising is moving beyond the traditional platforms of print, television and radio with the top advertising schools embracing social media advertising in their curriculum.

There is a detailed discussion on how the WKU Ad Program at Western Kentucky University is teaching advertising in the digital age by making all ad majors study a course eponymouslytitled "Digital Storytelling for the  21st Century" along with more traditional fare like account planning, basic marketing concepts, creative strategy and copy writing. It's clear that the business of advertising is becoming more about a consumer dialogue than a monologue and schools are embracing social media advertising.

The book encourages undergrads to look at major advertising programs in universities like Michigan State University, University of Florida, the University of Texas at Austin, University of Illinois and Boston University. A student at Michigan State University might for instance take 40 credits of advertising or ad-related courses, while a student at a small program may take 9 or 10 credits related to advertising. You will have  a better crack at finding a job in advertising if you invest in a liberal arts degree from a major advertising program.

A lot of people are scared about the future of advertising because technology is changing the landscape so fast, but this is actually a really exciting time to be in the business.


Uttara Choudhury is Editor, North America for TV 18’s Firstpost news site and writer for Forbes India. In 1997, she went on the British Chevening Scholarship to study Journalism in the University of Westminster, in London



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Thanks for the great review.
21 July 2016

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