News at Smith

Strategic Design Fellows Take Advertising Field Trip

Mar 01, 2017
Experiential / Reality-based Learning


The University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business organized a trip for Strategic Design Fellow students and faculty members Mary Harms and Howard Bomstein to Richmond, Va., on Friday, Feb. 24, 2017, to explore what it would be like to be involved in advertising. Why Richmond? Because that is the location of the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Brandcenter, which offers a graduate program featuring five concentrations: experience design, copywriting, art direction, strategy, and creative brand management. UMD students got a tour of the building and heard from two faculty members involved in strategy and experience design. Around 160 advertising and marketing firms came to VCU Brandcenter’s reverse career fair last year to hire their 106 graduates.

VCU Inside VCU Martin Agency
Click photos to enlarge

The students then went to the headquarters of the Martin Agency, known for their GEICO ads over the past couple of decades. Before a tour of the agency, students met with Chris Mumford, executive vice president and managing director of the agency, about the importance of culture in an agency. The discussion also revolved around the dizzying pace in which the advertising industry is changing and what skill sets are needed in order to be successful in the future.

Students also heard from Ben Creasey, vice president/account manager GEICO, on how they work with GEICO to produce winning ads. They recently won the Film Grand Prix Lion at Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity and was also recognized with Ad Age’s inaugural Campaign of the Year for their GEICO “Unskippable” campaign. In the past 20+ years working together, GEICO has grown from number eight to number two in the insurance category. The Martin Agency replaced consumer fear with humor and added multiple storylines and incorporated pop culture icons into GEICO advertising (i.e. camels, cavemen and a gecko).

The trip was planned by Professor Mary Harms to give students an understanding of the opportunities that are available for graduate work in the field of marketing and to expose them to stellar advertising being done by professionals who live in a smaller, slower-paced environment than NYC.

The Strategic Design Fellows program curriculum and co-curricular activities are designed to produce business leaders who can generate strategically sound and creative design decisions. Strategic Design Fellows will master the creative problem-solving and innovative-thinking skills and experiences along with marketing strategy and design techniques needed to be competitive in today’s job market. This program is intentionally interdisciplinary, with mutual benefit to be gained by collaboration between marketing students and design students in developing creative business solutions.

Learn more about the courses, resources, projects, and alumni associated with Design Fellows here.

Mary Harms is the Faculty Champion for this program.

- Claudia Donnelly, Smith Undergraduate Program

About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business

The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and part-time MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, specialty master's, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.