I’m a huge believer that we should constantly challenge ourselves by trying new things and starting from scratch sometimes. So my newest project is to teach a full semester at Boston University. Wish me luck.
The College of Communication has offered me the chance to develop a syllabus for a course titled Strategic Creative Development. Granted I’ve taught and run workshops, lectured at numerous colleges and even done a week long executive in residence at the University of Oregon. But all of that pales compared to what it takes to prepare for a full semester. I have a newfound respect for anyone who teaches.
There’s still a month to go before the semester starts, but here’s what I’ve got so far. Thought I’d share it in hopes that you might have suggestions for how to make it even better.
Course Description (what it will say in the syllabus)
Advertising strategy is no longer only about inspiring the creation of an ad. Today it has to inform how brands generate content, engage in the social stream, encourage participation, and create cohesion across all media. Likewise, creative concepts are no longer limited to the art and copy-based executions that defined creativity in the traditional media of TV, print and outdoor. They now include digital experiences, gaming dynamics, mobile utility, Facebook apps, crowdsourcing and experiences that connect the digital world and the real world.
In this course you will study, dissect, analyze and conceive creative ideas that include traditional advertising, but that emphasize social media, digital platforms, mobile apps and gaming dynamics to understand how brands connect with consumers in the new age of participation.
By the end of the semester you should have a broader definition of “creative” and some experience in generating ideas that take into consideration consumer participation, the role of influencers, the value in branded utility, and the importance of emerging social platforms.
Objectives for the course or why you are here
· Learn to think, solve, create
· Expand your definition of advertising creativity and possibilities
· Understand the new roles and teams in the modern creative process
· Practice generating creative ideas, working as teams
· Get better at evaluating yours and others’ work
· Push beyond the basics of traditional art/copy advertising ideas
What you’ll be asked to do
We meet but once a week, so attendance is mandatory. Missed classes will lower grades by half a grade per class. Three missed classes lead to an F.
A teacher can’t really teach creativity, students have to learn it by exercising their thinking and doing muscles. We can only be successful if you play an active role in class, engaging, debating, asking questions, contributing to the conversation.
Write (to help you think and analyze)
Creatives and strategists have to express their ideas well. As part of our learning you’ll maintain a blog and post a minimum of 13 weekly blog posts (approx 400 words) with links and appropriate embedded content in fulfillment of assignments. Example: find an innovative transmedia campaign, identify objective, back out audience/community, determine strategy, assess creative.
Over the course of the semester each of you will make three or four stand up presentations of that week’s blog post content and findings.
Maintain an Idea Book and generate creative solutions
I haven’t totally figured this out yet, but am inspired by Professor Deb Morrison at U of O and her book on the creative process.
Work over the course of the semester will include individual assignments and a semester long team project. The latter will consist of developing insight, strategy, driving brand idea, and campaign elements that include social media, mobile, experiential, utility and advertising.
Work/think/create all the time
Creating and thinking doesn’t happen in an allocated three-hour time slot once a week. Nor does it occur during the hours you schedule to do “homework.” It is a way of being and living. You want to learn to observe, discover, capture and develop creative ideas all the time. Inspiration is in the books you read, the movies you see, the museums you visit, the subways you ride. Learn to be open to it.
The Semester (presuming things go as planned)
Every class will include a brief lecture from me, student presentations, a full hour of workshop and creative development and in many cases guest speakers. Some pretty good ones I might add, presuming client presentations and new business pitches don’t get in the way. (Don’t worry, Matt Britton: I will find a place for you.)
January 23: The End of Us and Them
The transition from Bernbach to Zuckerberg
Creating in an age when readers and viewers want to create, too
January 30: Strategy in the age of participation
What is the brief, what does it look like, what does it inspire?
Guest: Kelsey Hodgkins, digital strategist/planner, Mullen
February 6: Is the big idea dead or alive?
Do we need them? Integration vs cohesion
Guest: Dave Weist, Tim Vaccarino, ECDs Mullen (VW, Cadillac, Jet Blue, Google)
February 13: Social from within
Being social vs using social
Guest: Daniel Stein, CEO and Founder of EVB, creator of Elf Yourself and Facebook Studio
February 22 (Tuesday make up)
Surprise visit from young creatives who’ll work with the class on their projects while I am away for the week.
Week 27: Transmedia story telling
Complex narratives that inspire participation
Guest: Helen Klein Ross, Founder Brand Fiction Factory, Betty Draper on Twitter
March 5: Strategic and creative in the mobile space
Where on the funnel? Adding value through utility
March 19: Learning from the individual
What we learn from Gary Vaynerchuk, Sheena Matheiken, Dan Savage, et.al.
Guest: Sheena Matheiken, founder/creator The Uniform Project
March 26: Creating experiences and owning the media
Go Mo, Shocking Barack, Chalkbot and more
April 2: Crowdsourcing
A new marketing and creative tool/strategy
Guest: John Winsor, Founder/CEO of Victors and Spoils
April 9: Inventing things
The importance of technology, innovation and APIs
Guest: Matthew Ray, Creative Technologist
April 16: Thinking Small
Make great stuff with small budgets
Guests: Michael Bourne, SVP Social Media and Michael Ancevic, SVP/CD on Olympus Camera’s Will it Blend, Pen Ready and Tough
April 23: Do brands need a soul?
Having a purpose. Richard Branson, Alex Bogusky, Simon Mainwaring
Guest: Scott Henderson, Founder of Rally the Cause
April 23: Bringing it all together
Presentations from semester long projects
If I don’t suck, it will in part be due to the generous advice from the likes of Professors Tom Fauls, Deb Morrison, William Ward, Tracy Tuten and Scott Sherman. And insightful suggestions from some of the smart young professionals I work with, including Brenna Hanly, Angela Ruffino, Elena Romeu and Eli Perez de Gracia.
What do you think? Got any suggestions that might help me out?