Roll Tide! My keynote to the advertising and PR department at the University of Alabama.

October 14, 2011


The “A” is for Advertising!

I recently had the privilege of speaking to a large group of students from the Advertising and Public Relations school at the University of Alabama. I was the keynote speaker for “Ad Day,” an event featuring a wide variety of speakers from various agencies and businesses around the country. Glenn Griffin, a professor from the advertising school, was my most-gracious host. Glenn is also co-author of The Creative Process Illustrated, an excellent picture book featuring the work and thoughts from many of Adland’s brightest minds. Among other speakers for Ad Day were Janet Kestin and Nancy Vonk (creators of the vaunted Dove Beauty campaign) and Nancy Jaffe, a group planning director at JWT in New York. Not too shabby.

Anyway, I did a whopping 70 minutes, which is longer than I’d ever talked before. To an audience anyway. I spoke on various topics, many of which I cover right here: new media, cult brands, synergizing message with media, popular culture, etc… Actually, I combined several presentations into one. A “mash-up” I called it, hoping this gave me license to bounce around. Whether my ploy worked or not, the UA students were terrific. (If any of you are reading this, thank you for being such a great audience.)


I’ve seen this type before!

Students almost always are a great audience. Maybe some professors disagree with me but I get a kick out of speaking to young men and women, especially on a topic like advertising. They want to be inspired, provoked and engaged. UA’s APR students were no exception.

A grad student drove me to the airport. On the way he asked if I gave speeches and the like for a living. “Let’s hope not,” I told him. Because I’ve made a grand total of ZERO doing it. He seemed genuinely surprised I didn’t charge some kind of speaking fee…like I’m Mike Ditka or Rudy Giuliani. No, most public institutions (and ad clubs for that matter) don’t have much in the way of speaker budgets.

But I don’t care. It’s my way of giving back to a vocation that’s been unbelievably good to me. Besides, I like writing and making presentations. It’s a rush. And when I do my job right the audience gleans something from it as well. The proverbial win-win.

So, thank you students and faculty from the University of Alabama. Hopefully, we’ll meet again…perhaps when my Wisconsin Badgers meet your beloved Crimson Tide for the national championship! Wouldn’t that be something?

6 Responses to “Roll Tide! My keynote to the advertising and PR department at the University of Alabama.”

  1. I want to thank you again for coming to speak. Your presentation was very insightful and enjoyable.

  2. cb1ndustri said

    hi steffan, can you post your presentation on slideshare?

  3. Ashley Milhollin said

    I filled a sheet of paper (front & back!) with some of your awesome/hilarious/insightful/inspiring quotes. Thank you again for coming!

  4. Justin said

    It should be noted that said grad student wasn’t just surprised that you were volunteering; rather he was very pleasantly surprised that you were willing to travel to Alabama for no pay to speak to students. I’ve had a dozen emails since Wednesday from kids who were genuinely inspired by Ad Day and your lecture. Thanks again.

    If the advertising thing does work out I hear there’s good money in televangelism.

  5. Sarah Shea said

    It’s been quite some time since I have been so provoked by a “guest speaker.” I especially enjoyed your insight about outdoor advertising and the implication of its human imposition on creation. Needless to say, I will think twice before my next design. Thanks again for coming and great job.

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