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How to Sell Anything, Starting with Your Talent

AdClub gives students real-world experience, clients an unbeatable price


A poster showing a face, half in shadow, with bright cherry lips, red eyelashes, and neon makeup, and the word “Glow” made to look like a buzzing fluorescent light positioned on the poster’s left side turned heads when it was hung outside Warren Towers last November.

The stunning design, done for the BU Fashion and Retail Association’s annual show, was the brainchild of students in AdClub, a College of Communication student-led group that is for many a first chance to create an advertising campaign, from the initial client meeting to the final presentation.

“In AdClub, students learn how to manage a real client relationship,” says AdClub advisor John Verret, a COM associate professor of advertising. “They sit down with the client to find out what they’re looking for, and they have to come up with a creative strategy. A lot of times, it gets shot down, and so they keep working at it. The thrill comes when the client finally says, ‘It’s perfect.’”

AdClub began in 2001 as an offshoot of AdLab, a two-credit course for upperclassmen that operates like a real advertising agency. AdLab members started the club because they remembered the frustrating Catch 22 of being underclassmen who needed a portfolio to apply for internships, but couldn’t build a portfolio without an internship. Today, AdClub works as a feeder for AdLab, and both are open to students in any school.

Boston University BU, College of Communication COM, AdLab, advertising club, client projects, Bon Me food truck

Jennifer Ngo (COM’14), marketing manager for food company Bon Me, worked with AdClub to create an advertising strategy for Bon Me’s Noodle Stop, a new concept.

AdClub now takes on about 20 clients each year, splitting them among the 260 members, who are grouped into teams consisting of an account executive, a copywriter, an art director, and general creative people. Teams are given about three weeks to learn a client’s needs, come up with an initial design, present it to the client, consider their feedback, and deliver a finished product. Clients often come to AdClub for logo development and brand identity, sometimes with an idea in mind, and sometimes not.

BU groups that tap AdClub’s expertise (BUTV10, the BU Israel Business Club, and the Howard Thurman Center for Common Ground are among clients this semester alone) receive free advertising services. Outside organizations, such as food truck Bon Me and jewelry maker SparkleBop Boston, are charged $100, a fee Verret describes as a steal, considering that professional ad agencies charge “at least $1,000, and upwards of $10,000,” just to create a logo.

The money pays for the group’s membership in the American Advertising Federation and for agency tours, and it helps to bring in speakers, says Julia Heavey (COM’14), AdClub’s vice president of accounts.

“AdClub is real-world experience with less pressure,” says Heavey. “You realize what you’re getting yourself into if you choose to major in advertising.”

Taylor Toole, Video Producer, Multimedia Producer, BU Today, BU Productions, Bostonia, Boston University, BU
Taylor Toole

Taylor Toole can be reached at ttoole@bu.edu.

2 Comments on How to Sell Anything, Starting with Your Talent

  • Daniel Posada on 06.02.2014 at 12:32 pm

    I am an incoming transfer student for the next fall semester. I have seen the video and I am really interested on hearing more about you guys as a club.

  • Wilton DePina on 06.09.2014 at 9:49 am

    I am interested in getting some advertisement help with a clothing and art line that I am looking to get off the ground within the next year. I could really use the help with branding and taking it forward. I am a student at BU.

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