Anyone with at least a meager appreciation for cool design, a creative atmosphere, and an excellent view would be thrilled with the opportunity to spend a day at Duncan/Channon, a midsized advertising agency in San Francisco, CA. I spent the day shadowing Adam Flynn ’08, a brand strategist for D/C who made sure that my emerging perspective of the advertising industry was comprehensive, and that I understood every person’s independent but critical role in the industry.
The day began with an all-staff meeting in the Tip, D/C’s own bar and lounge perched innocently on the roof of the Grant Building. The meeting gave everyone the chance to gather and debrief before a hectic week. Production showed their two latest commercials, the Creative Director gave a presentation on gender discrimination in advertising, and I got the chance to chat with Robert Duncan, D/C’s President and Founder. These discussions continued over the day as I met copywriters, strategists and filmmakers, and learned the responsibilities of each position within the company. I was exposed to sides of advertising that I am seldom conscious of as a consumer: The purchasing and placement of the media used to broadcast advertisements, as well as the relationship between advertisers and their clients. I was able to watch several “manifestos” (videos designed to prove to a client that D/C understands the client’s perspective and mission, and therefore is qualified to reshape and promote the client’s image). In short, I walked away from the Princeternship with a satisfying and overall understanding of what an advertising agency does – from social research to creative conception, from media strategy to physical production. It was a fantastic and genuinely enjoyable opportunity to learn about an industry that I initially knew very little about.
I must mention – though it has little to do with the advertising agency itself – that Adam was a spectacular host. A good part of the day (lunch and dinner, at least) was stuffed full of entertaining conversation about Princeton, professors, particularly good commercials, Star Wars, foreign genres of dance and self-defense, the Western literary canon, etc. And yet most of it did tie back to social and cultural understanding – essentially the foundation of the advertising industry. It was a fantastic experience, and one that I would enthusiastically encourage anyone interested in advertising, design, culture, or social studies to repeat.