4 reasons why a BCom’s best for getting into advertising

10 Nov

What’s the right training for a career in marketing or advertising?

(Design and business schools are not the same and will produce wholly different types of future ad people. I’m going to focus here on the business side of the business.)

So, to the right training: Communications programs? Advertising schools? Commerce?

Based on the evidence I would say that your Bachelor of Commerce degree is your best choice. And here’s the evidence:

1. BCom students are schooled in running a business.

Communications programs tend to produce more rounded students and advertising schools more specifically wired candidates, but they’re mostly all new to business. BCom grads don’t just come in with experience gained through their internships, but with business ideas.

2. They’re more entrepreneurial.

Take a look at the University of Victoria’s BCom program. One of their majors is in Entrepreneurship. The students have to create companies, set business goals and meet them in competition with other students. That throws a lot of confident and road-tested people into the market. They get the importance of money in the process.

3. They’re more confident.

Maybe it’s because the University 4-year program is more grueling than a 2-year Communications degree or a 3-year Advertising diploma. Whatever it is, BCom grads come fully loaded. They know that if they decide not to go into advertising, they have other avenues open. They have more choices available to them I think.

4. They’re more adaptable.

Relevancy is extremely important when preparing students for the working world. The BCom programs do this better than other types because they’re about business and business is always changing anyway. Advertising was in a comfortable nap state for decades until the digital thing blew up. No doubt the programs have been challenged to keep pace.

I’m not for a moment suggesting that brilliant grads don’t come out of other types of programs. I just find the talent pool from the University Commerce programs more consistently able to deliver on these 4 points.

We’ve hired lots of grads from U Vic’s BCom program over the years, and two of them, Media Executive Diana Walter (Class of 2008) and Account Co-ordinator Andrea Merson (Class of 2010 – graduating this week in fact), are currently doing their school proud on our team.


18 Responses to “4 reasons why a BCom’s best for getting into advertising”

  1. A.J. November 10, 2010 at 10:58 pm #

    Wow… very insightful blog post. As a person who is trying to figure out my next career move after 18 years in radio, this is giving me a tremendous amount to think about. Thank you.

  2. dougbrowncreative November 10, 2010 at 11:20 pm #

    That comment alone makes the post worth it A.J.> Thanks a lot for that.

  3. dougbrowncreative November 11, 2010 at 8:44 am #

    I’ve had a number of inquiries on Twitter about what I think about Royal Roads University’s Communications program. I’m a big fan. We have hired from amongst the graduates and so has Tartan. For people not sure whether they fall on the business side or the creative side, or who have a healthy disposition to both, you can’t beat RRU.

  4. A.J. November 11, 2010 at 1:16 pm #

    That day you and I met in the boardroom when I came in to chat with Trish at Tartan, she had some really good things to say about RRU as well. And having spoken with Russ Lolacher and Jason Finnerty, they also both spoke highly of the Prof Comm program. I think I fall into the range you described as having a mix of both the creative side and the business side, so more and more things seem to be pointing in that direction. But your point about the benefit of a BComm is also giving me a lot to think about as well. You’re generating a tremendous amount of thoughts in my head from this post and I sincerely appreciate it. Cheers!

  5. Dale Baglo November 11, 2010 at 1:24 pm #

    Hey A.J. What’s say you and I sign up for a Bcom at RR? I’ve been aiming towards this for years… taking the prerequisite accounting course, collecting the required letters of recommendation etc. I even have my Personal Statement written up. The thing I was waffling about was whether to do Communications instead. This blog has been most helpful. Thanks Doug!

  6. dougbrowncreative November 11, 2010 at 2:06 pm #

    > A.J. you are spoiled for choice in this town when it comes to education options. Camosun, RRU, U Vic…you will end up in a great program here wherever you park yourself. There are many other opinions out there about which program is best – why not check it out with the schools themselves and find out where their grads are getting jobs?

    > Dale, do you and A.J. know each other? Selfishly I would hate to not have you to work with on all our radio stuff, but I’m available to chat about this if you think that would be helpful.

  7. Dale Baglo November 11, 2010 at 2:22 pm #

    Nice thing about RR is that you can do the Bcom in two years online. You don’t have to attend day classes (unless you want to get it all done in a year). So as long as I can commit about 15 hours a week to homework, I can continue to do my “day job”. (So don’t worry about my availability. I’m always for hire!) And they actually welcome “mature” learners and value the contribution and ideas that people with business experience bring.

  8. A.J. November 11, 2010 at 3:06 pm #

    Do I know Dale Baglo? Are you kidding? Do you know how many Christmas mornings I’ve worked in radio and ran his Gift of Christmas specials while sipping rum and eggnog? Far too many to admit…

    As for joining forces on the BComm Dale, it sounds like you’re way further ahead on that front than I am. Until reading this blog post, I had never even contemplated it, so I need to do some serious investigating as to pre-reqs, etc.

    I’m in the process of checking out schools (mainly Communications related) and it’s been great to chat with people who have done the programs as well as the people who are hiring those grads. I’m sort of in the situation where I’m looking for the best “bang for my buck” right now.

  9. dougbrowncreative November 11, 2010 at 4:11 pm #

    Wherever you choose to study, a degree only gets you to the kitchen door. Passion for the business, initiative, common sense and good people skills are what bring you to the table.

    A.J. glad to hear you know about Dale – a natural born radio killer.

  10. andmerson November 11, 2010 at 4:59 pm #

    Thanks Doug. I think you are right, I am a little bias but I feel that my BCom degree has provided me with a holistic view of business that only compliments a career in advertising.

    Advertising doesn’t stand alone. I see it more as the method that companies use to communicate their strategies to consumers. Because my Bcom degree gave me the tools, the understanding, and the fundamentals of how to run a successful business, I can relate to the business strategies of our clients. Then, with the some creative thinking and a great team we can develop advertising campaigns that are effective.

    AJ and Dale- I just completed by BCom degree from UVic so throw me a line if you have any questions or want to hear my perspective of how the UVic experience was. I’m more than happy to share as I too had lots a questions before I chose a program.

  11. Raju Sandhu November 11, 2010 at 9:02 pm #

    Great post, Doug. Very insightful! I think most communication programs lack the business emphasis. Advertising/design programs focus more on creativity and all that fun stuff. I think the new grads eventually end up learning about the business side of things once they begin a role position. Thanks for sharing your view on hiring new grads. I believe you have just highlighted a missing component in (most) advertising/cmns programs.

  12. A.J. November 11, 2010 at 10:00 pm #

    > Andrea that is very kind of you. If you’re serious, I may just take you up on that offer. A BComm was never even on my radar until this week and now it’s been jumping out at me from a bunch of different places. So a chance to pick a successful grads brain would be amazing.

    > Doug, I think this is going to be a “work at it backwards” scenario for me – I’ve got the passion, initiative, common sense and people skills from 18 years of radio. But now I need to figure out what I need to do to earn the right to knock on the kitchen door to get an invite in to the party. And input from everyone I speak with, tweet with and comment with just keeps on giving me more and more to think about and consider and I’m incredibly grateful for every bit of it.

  13. dougbrowncreative November 12, 2010 at 7:07 am #

    > Good to have your comment Raju. I believe talented people who love the business will always find a way into it. Some headstarts are more valuable than others though. As a RRU grad, did you get the leg-up you needed through the program and what industry have you taken to?

    > Good thing about Victoria social media crowd A.J. is that they are very helpful and generous. Why not arrange a sit-down with a recent grad from each of the local schools that offer relevant programs? The schools could arrange that or you could make a pitch for it on Twitter.

    > Andrea, thanks for that offer to the radio guys and congratulations on graduating from U Vic today!

  14. Rob Fairhead November 12, 2010 at 9:05 am #

    Good post Doug, and good comments.

    I do agree wholeheartedly with what you are saying – if given the choice, the BCOM is the way to go (as my Communications Degree made me very good at Jeopardy, and prepared me for little else).

    The one challenge I would throw out is that diversity is incredibly important in ad agencies. If we all came from the same schooling, had similar backgrounds and had be trained to tackle problems in the same ways, our thinking could become homogenous.

    Some of the smartest people I have worked with in this industry have had Sociology and Philosophy degrees. And some, no degrees at all. Some programs, like sociology, do inspire more customer-centric problem solving – the why, before the how.

    Food for thought. Overall though, a foundation of business schooling will never hurt anybody. And, as ‘King Tim’ says, “Agencies are stuck in a structure that turns out ad ideas, not business building ideas.”

  15. dougbrowncreative November 12, 2010 at 9:18 am #

    Well put Rob. The diversity angle gets somewhat covered off by the addition of the creative element, but I sure agree that talented people come from all walks – and you need a well-rounded group. It’s neat that you mention Sociology (and I would throw in Psychology) because with the emphasis shifting back to customer research, these types are invaluable. Great comment, thank you.

  16. andmerson November 19, 2010 at 3:47 pm #

    AJ I’m completely serious. Email me at amerson@yourcopeland.com if you ever want to talk or set something up. Good luck with it all.

  17. A.J. November 19, 2010 at 6:07 pm #

    Andrea, you are far too kind. I will definitely take you up on that offer, it would be great to chat with a BComm grad and get some perspective from that side. I just sent you an e-mail, thank you again!

  18. dougbrowncreative November 19, 2010 at 11:50 pm #

    I’ve said it before: this is why we hired Andrea 4 months before she could start.

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