Professor of Advertising: Clifford Van Wyk

Clifford Van Wyk, Senior Lecturer at Bournemouth University, draws up the portrait of a successful student in advertising


Point of View: Professor of Advertising

What are the skills, interests, and personality traits necessary for a student to be successful in a marketing and advertising program? Why are these important for students to have?
Ability to think laterally
An entrepreneurial / innovative spirit
Intense interest in communications
Attention to detail
Ability to strike a balance between analysis and creativity
What is the most rewarding part of a career in the marketing and advertising field? Why should students pursue a career in this field?
Ability to exercise proactivity
The broader industry is dynamic, challenging and ever-evolving
What advice would you give to students who are considering earning a degree in marketing and advertising?
Be absolutely sure that this industry is the one you want to be a part of.
Don't be deceived by the misconceptions of glamour - this is a tough and demanding sector.
If there is any doubt about advertising as a specialist area, choose the marketing pathway; it is easier to move from client-side to agency-side that it is the other way around.
What can students applying to advertising programs do to increase their chances of being accepted?
Be proactive - consult industry/academic sources of reference.
Become familiar with the basic process of advertising, and what makes advertising successful / effective.
Buy a good book (or two!) and get familiar with the general ethos and the zeitgeist of the industry.
Start building a portfolio.
How can prospective advertising students assess their skill and aptitude?
Try to speak to someone in the industry or a student/graduate.
Get hold of an industry body or academic institution and ask what programmes exist for this purpose.
Are there different considerations for those who know that they want to specialize in a certain area?
For those who know that they wish to specialise (e.g. in art direction, copywriting or digital design) university courses may not be the best option. Consider colleges or specialist courses or programmes that will offer specific practical and/or vocational skills.
What factors should prospective students consider when choosing an advertising program?
Reputation of the course/institution.
Affiliation to / recognition by / membership of professional and industry bodies.
The curriculum offered.
Experience and qualifications of academic staff.
Employability rates of past graduates.
Facilities offered by the institution.
Flexibility within the course.
What further advice can you offer to prospective students thinking about an education and career in advertising and marketing?
If you want it, do it.
How do you use AdForum within your program and how useful is it ?
Accessible to all students.
Case study analysis - development of best practice.
Ensuring the currency of course material.
Downloading and use of executions in lecture material.
Students are encouraged to use it to keep abreast of industry trends, developments and latest campaigns.