For a profession that finds its raison d etre in hype, strangely enough, there is little fanfare surrounding the Advertising Club of Madras (yes, it has not changed to Chennai!) or the fact that it is the only ad club in the country that has been conducting post-graduate diploma courses in advertising for the last seven years. The classes for the eighth batch of students, beginning this month, will be held, as usual, at T Nagar, where the Club is located.
The best thing about this course is that nearly everyone who passes out finds a placement. Each year, the club takes no more than 16 students, for the simple reason that it would not be able to manage a large number and give "individual attention". The course fee is not exactly cheap at Rs 12,000 per annum, and has been structured to take on serious students and provide them with first-hand experience of the industry.
Part of the training also includes an internship period of two months with agencies and corporates. These have proved very useful as most students get absorbed by the organisations where they do their internships. "We get a good overview of the industry and the education system here is very different from the 'bookish' system of education provided elsewhere. Consequently, when I jointed HTA and then Lintas, no time was wasted in learning the ropes," feels B Prabhakaran, who has just passed out of the last batch and is now a client servicing executive at Lowe Lintas, Chennai.
"So much goes into making a student complete. They are not just taught the subject but also roped into all the activities of the club. For instance, when we organised the international conference 'Future Shock: Reinventing Advertising in the ICE Age' early this year, these students not just attended it, but were involved in organising the event as well," says G Ajayan, general manager, Ogilvy & Mather, Chennai.
The club had taken on independent management consultants at the very onset to prepare a broad structure and identify subjects where students would need grooming. Frequent additions and alterations have been made to the course thereafter. "For instance, we have included rural advertising, which was not so important some years back and we have also started taking a session on Internet advertising and communication. Thus, we have always sought to make our students learn the latest skills and keep pace with the changing needs of our industry," said Jagannath Ramaswamy, president of Chennai-based agency Profad. Ramaswamy has been the past president of the club and is currently a member of the executive committee.
The club has a sub-committee for education, which decides on the syllabus and sessions that are to be held each year. At the beginning of every term, letters are sent to media practitioners, advertising and marketing professionals in the city. "We know the community here and we select people based on their teaching abilities. Once people confirm their willingness to give time, we book their slots for two months," he says. The dates are never allotted beyond two months as it is difficult for working professionals to commit time so much in advance. There are, on an average, 100 sessions every year. At the beginning of each year, the executive committee members of the ad club sit together to firm up the course for that year.
The syllabus for this year will include sessions on Basics of Advertising (no decision has been taken yet on who would conduct the course), Structure and Function of an Ad Agency (to be conducted by RV Rajan, CEO, Anugraha Madison DMB&B), Marketing Management (M.J. Xavier, Dean, Institute of Financial Management and Research, Chennai), Market Research and Consumer Psychology with reference to Buyer Behaviour, Brand Management, Creativity and Copywriting in Advertising, Media Planning and Operations (by Manish Paudwal, vice-president, sales, Vijay TV), New Media - into Internet and Portal Advertising (senior people from Satyam and HTA), Script Writing for Films (Deepa Krishna, senior vice-president, Lintas) and Emerging Challenges in Advertising.
Some of the additional sessions for this year would include an Overview of Advertising by U Jairaj Rau, vice-president, HTA, Lateral Thinking by R.R. Krishnan of Orchids Chemicals, and by S Chandrashekhar, CEO, Ideopraxist.
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