University of Florida’s Student-Run Agency Signs First Two Clients

Student-run firm signs first real-world clients.

the agency opening

University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications Dean Diane McFarlin and Dean Emeritus Ralph Lowenstein (center) welcome UF advertising alumnus Richard McGinnis and his wife Shirley, as well as advertising alumnus Pete Barr, to The Agency.

The Agency, the student-run group launched by the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications to provide upcoming PR professionals with real-world experience, celebrated its grand opening/dedication this week and officially signed two new clients: The Florida Department of Citrus and Experiencias Xcaret, a theme park in Cancun, Mexico.

While the agency is not the country’s first student-run firm, it does boast the experience of executive director Andy Hopson, who has spent several decades in the industry in the following roles (among others):

  • VP at Ogilvy Seattle
  • President and COO of Evans Group, which was acquired by Publicis in 1998
  • CEO and President of the Northeastern Region for Burson-Marsteller
  • Managing Director of Ruder Finn Chicago

The Agency also brought on Kimberly Bastoni, a former head of global strategy at New York firm GfK, to direct research projects.

The release tells us that the agency’s “inaugural staff” of 57 (which was drawn from a group of nearly 300) ranges from freshman to grad students. It doesn’t quite tell us what they will do for these clients, exactly, but it will almost certainly not involve Spring Break trips to Cancun.

Check out Hopson’s video account of the dedication on Wednesday:

Pretty cool idea, we have to say.