Borough President Proposes Ad High School

NEW YORK Brooklyn borough president Marty Markowitz this morning sketched out plans for a new high school that would center around advertising and media.

Markowitz, speaking at a press conference outside Brooklyn Borough Hall that drew ad executives such as Interpublic Group CEO Michael Roth as well as Advertising Week executive director Matt Scheckner, put forth the idea for such a school 18 months ago and wants to locate it in central Brooklyn.

Markowitz hopes the school will open by next fall. Organizers, however, are still drafting a proposal that will go before the New York City Department of Education, which has to identify a site and approve the plan. Markowitz has committed $2 million in capital funds from his office’s budget toward the project.

“Advertising is a lucrative career young people can get into,” Markowitz said. “But at this stage in the game our minority communities—as we all know—are under-represented in the field. Even with the buying power of African-Americans in the this country by 2009 projected to be $950 billion and so many ads celebrating African-American style and culture, we know that only a very small percentage, around 5 percent, of the product managers and advertising executives working on these very products are African-Americans.”

He added: “There has been a consensus this trend has got to change.” Indeed, under pressure from the New York City Human Rights Commission, 16 agencies in September 2006 signed agreements that call for greater minority representation in the industry. The agreements require the agencies, which include IPG’s McCann Erickson, WPP Group’s Ogilvy & Mather and Havas’ Euro RSCG, to meet a series of diversity goals in a three-year period, as put forth by the commission.

The advertising and media school proposal is backed by a partnership that includes the American Association of Advertising Agencies, IPG, Virtual Enterprises, Microsoft and VCU Adcenter director Rick Boyko, who will lead an advisory board charged with developing a curriculum.

“In addition to access to the best minds in the business, the school will provide students with hands-on experience in every aspect of the field: from art to finance, from musical scoring to writing to Web and print design, from packaging and marketing to statistical analysis, film and video technology,” Markowitz said.

“And, just like the clothing brand FUBU, which stands for ‘For Us By Us,’ this will mean more young people from central Brooklyn and across our borough will be ascending into the top levels of this industry with opportunities to bring in an excellent income.”

Proposals for new schools are due Nov. 28 and will be reviewed by the Department of Education’s Office of Portfolio Development, according to a DOE representative. That office will then make recommendations to New York City schools chancellor Joel Klein, who in turn will sign off on the new schools, the rep added. The last slate of approved new schools was announced in late January.

In a statement, Klein said: “I commend the borough president for his dedication to creating more good public schools in Brooklyn,” adding, “We look forward to reviewing this proposal.”

In addition to ad executives, more than 50 students from four high schools in Brooklyn and Manhattan attended the press conference, which lasted about 20 minutes.