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UA students mount ad agency learning curve

TUCSON – Excited UA students gathered at 10 p.m. on a Wednesday night – and it wasn’t for a fraternity party or basketball game. It was the first meeting of their new student-run advertising agency.

“I’m really excited to see what clients we get in and to see what type of creations we come up with, ’cause I think we have a really talented team,” said Nicole Scher, a junior majoring in communications and an account director for the agency, UA AdCats.

“I’ve been doing this for 25 years and I think I’m the most excited of everybody,” said Ed Ackerley of Ackerley Advertising, who is CEO of UA AdCats and an adjunct faculty member in the college of marketing and media arts.

There is no advertising major available at the University of Arizona, so a program like UA AdCats is an asset for students interested in the field, Ackerley said.

The agency includes 14 students, with majors ranging from marketing to graphic design, said Liz Tanori, the agency’s director and a UA senior majoring in marketing and visual communications.

The students will make all the decisions in their agency, from selecting clients to dealing with budgets. UA AdCats parallels the experience students would receive working in a professional environment, Ackerley said.

Students will “be doing, touching, feeling, being involved in a real-life, real-world, real-client environment where they would have the pressure on them just like they would if they were in the work force,” he said.

UA AdCats doesn’t intend to take business from professional agencies in Tucson, Ackerley said. In fact, the agency would like others to use it as a resource to tap into new ways to reach UA students.

UA AdCats will use new media, such as Facebook, Twitter and text messaging, as well as traditional media, such as newspapers, to reach students.

“We know from our experience that students see other forms of media, but the traditional forms are not as important to them right this second in their lives as their cell phone and their laptop,” Ackerley said.

UA AdCats will charge one-third to half what a professional agency would charge, Ackerley said. However, students won’t be paid for their services; they’ll receive UA credits instead.

“They’re going to be very busy,” he added.

The agency’s initial expectation was to work with about 600 UA clubs, he said, but it hasn’t begun to do so because of all the requests it has received from UA departments and schools.

Scher said she thinks Tucson will also embrace the new agency.

“Every Tucson business out here is probably going to want to support it just due to the fact that we are students and their business thrives on our business,” Scher said.

The agency will help advance its members’ careers as well.

“Hopefully it will bring me some connections after graduation,” said Stephanie Garibay, a UA senior majoring in marketing, and the agency’s public relations director.

Prominent UA supporters also donated seed money to the agency, Ackerley said.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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