First Term Under Way at LAAAA’s ‘Ad U’ Program

Training is arguably the most acute need in the advertising business, so it is not surprising that when the Los Angeles Advertising Agencies Association announced its new, expanded, multidisciplinary training program, “Ad U,” responses started flooding in. So many came in, in fact, that the program quickly reached its capacity.

Ad U, aimed at ad professionals with less than five years of experience, kicked off last week with 33 students and is scheduled to run until early November. After reviewing and refining this first run, the LAAAA will reprise Ad U for at least one encore in 2001. The program will ultimately be offered two or three times a year.

“We used to have a loosely connected series of mini seminars conducted monthly called ‘Adventures in Advertising,’ and we’d get anywhere from 30 to over 100 people, depending on the topic and speaker,” said Brad Fornaciari, senior partner at Ogilvy & Mather in Los Angeles and a member of the LAAAA board. “But agencies can’t afford to do [extensive] training programs anymore, so a year ago we decided to take it to another level. … It’s a value we can bring back to the community.”

Students meet two nights a week and are trained in nearly every advertising discipline, including media, planning, creative, direct marketing and interactive.

In the area of planning, for example, the curriculum includes discussions on “Understanding the Target” and “How to Work With Creative People to Support/Vindicate/Sell Work. The account management instruction offers lessons in setting business and marketing objectives and discussions on understanding a client’s business.

The Ad U faculty includes many accomplished agency executives in Southern California, including Jeffrey Blish, director of account planing, Deutsch/LA; Mark Montiero, executive creative director of DDB; Bruce Silverman, executive and general manager, Initiative Media North America; Shira Pantky, vice president of Grey Advertising; and Mark Bilfield, director of integrated marketing at Saatchi & Saatchi.

While enrollment is open, staff from LAAAA member agencies have first priority. For more information, call (323) 655-1951.