Geico ad execs share strategies with TU students

Adjunct Professor Bill Hinkle successfully completed his third annual University of Tulsa Advertising Program Dinner at the Greenwood Cultural Event Center in downtown Tulsa last month.

The dinner is an event Hinkle and his students put on as a fundraiser for the TU Advertising Program to raise money for the National Student Advertising Competition (NSAC).

“I like to say that NSAC is like the Super Bowl of college advertising,” Hinkle said. Using a creative brief, 250 universities from across the U.S. compete on a single brand providing a plan book and supporting materials. This year, the students created a 28-page advertising plan book and supporting materials for Snapple. The NSAC team also prepared for a 20-minute presentation in front of 200 to 300 people, including four judges that represent Snapple.

“As far as I’m concerned, NSAC is as close to reality as it gets and gives the students a sense of confidence they wouldn’t get from any other experience,” Hinkle said.

Something that started out as a field trip to New York City has turned into an annual event for the TU Ad Program. Each year, Hinkle invites the Tulsa advertising, public relations and media community for a presentation on an advertising campaign by executives from across the nation.

In 2015, the speaker was the chief creative director of the Dos Equis Most Interesting Man in the World advertising campaign. This year, Hinkle reached out to the creative team from the Martin Agency in Richmond, Va., responsible for Geico’s advertising, and they quickly grew a friendship via email.

“I felt like they were my brothers when I first met them. I haven’t had a speaker for this event that hasn’t been the most down-to-earth and so willing to do anything for the students,” Hinkle said.

Brad Higdon, VP/account director, and Wade Alger, senior VP/group creative director, made their way to Tulsa to speak about Geico’s advertising campaigns. Higdon and Alger were NSAC competitors as college students and didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to help the TU advertising students.

Higdon and Alger agreed the competition was the greatest experience they had as college students.

“We hope to show how Geico reshaped a category of advertising and how the Geico brand has evolved,” Alger said.

And they did just that. The hour-long presentation showed the audience the overview of Geico’s advertising and how it has developed over the years. Higdon and Alger touched on their creative process of how they turn ideas into reality.

Hinkle said the TU Ad Program is blessed with the support they receive from the community, as was evident with more than 400 people in attendance.

“These advertising students are incredibly smart, and they get jobs. That’s the best part,” Hinkle said.

This article was printed with permission from GTR Newspapers.