Art & Commerce: AEF’s Recruitment 101

NEW YORKWe all lament that we can’t compete with The Street and other lucrative industries in attracting the best and the brightest talent out of the universities. While it’s true that we can’t compete with salaries, we can lure potential stars (and a diverse cross-section of them) with the excitement and intellectual stimulation that is unique to advertising. But in order to attract these students, we need to get their professors on our side.

The Advertising Educational Foundation (AEF) has an excellent initiative called the Visiting Professor Program (VPP). For 20 years they have been placing interested, qualified and thoroughly screened professors in host companies for two-week periods so they can see firsthand what this business is all about. The professors leave energized, enthusiastic and with a better understanding of why advertising and marketing are so stimulating and unique.

As a longtime AEF board member and chairman of the VPP committee, I publicly thank the agencies and related companies that supported the VPP last year: Arnold New York, BBDO New York, Burrell, Crispin Porter + Bogusky, DDB Chicago, DDB New York, Energy BBDO Chicago, Euro RSCG, Grey, Leo Burnett, McCann Erickson, Ogilvy & Mather, Publicis, Saatchi & Saatchi, Starcom MediaVest Group and Time Warner. The majority of these companies consistently support the VPP each year, while others were first-time participants or had been on hiatus. Regardless, in each case, the results were excellent.

While this list of host companies is impressive, it is still not enough. Last year, the AEF placed 15 out of 75 applicants with host companies. Each year there are many qualified professors who have a lot to offer our industry through the VPP but can’t be placed. We need more host companies. If your company participates, it will be a rewarding experience because the AEF does an excellent job of matching professors to host companies. Everyone walks away feeling they have contributed to a worthwhile effort.

I will be reaching out to even more companies to participate in the VPP. I hope you’ll save me the call and volunteer by contacting Sharon Hudson, vice president and program manager. Her e-mail address is, and her direct line is (212) 986-8060 ext. 15.

The 2007 VPP takes place July 16–27. Your participation can help to remedy a serious problem we’re facing in our industry.

Nina DiSesa is worldwide chair and CCO at McCann Erickson