Academics

COMM 4371: The Most Exhausting, Yet Rewarding Class I’ve Ever Taken

Imagine applying to a class—a class that absorbs at least 25 hours a week, but a class that is beyond worth it. “Why would I do that?” Great question.

Imagine applying to a class—a class that absorbs at least 25 hours a week, but a class that is beyond worth it.

“Why would I do that?”

Great question.

Corporate advertising is widespread yet secretive and confusing. There are few windows to understanding its mechanics, so a class modeled after the industry is a goldmine. The Advertising and Promotions course, also known as “promo,” is a 9-credit behemoth split across the two semesters of fourth year. Open to all majors, it unites different schools of thought to solve an actual client brief for the National Student Advertising Competition (NSAC), in which over 100 universities compete as teams.

Promo has its perks. From a fully stocked pantry with taquitos, applesauce, hummus, fruit rollups, and more, to an all-expenses-paid trip to New York to visit some of the best ad agencies in the world, promo hooks it up. The class meets Tuesday and Thursday mornings, with a Friday lab (yes, it hurts), and the rest is up to you. Brainstorming slogans, planning pitches, conducting research, building target markets, mastering Photoshop, designing billboards, filming commercials—the list never ends. The autonomy (and work) in this course is infinite, but you get out what you put into it. Roles vary, responsibilities vary, but the team pulls its weight.

Beyond learning (which—and I can’t stress this enough—is abundant), the students make the class the gem that it is. The students who join promo are hard-working, loving, kind, and funny, and truly, they’re going to be ridiculously successful. On day one, our professor made a joke that these people would not only be at our weddings, but in them. At the time, we laughed, but in retrospect, I see it. I met some people I can’t imagine UVA without, and without promo, that would’ve been the reality.

“So, how do I get in?”

Another great question.

The application opens spring of your third year and aims to gauge your creativity and willingness to commit. When I applied, I was asked to describe my favorite campaign and how I would improve it. I chose “Dilly Dilly” and suggested adding a jousting tournament. Again, you don’t have to be majoring in Commerce to join the class, so talk about what you’ll uniquely add. You’ll spend thousands (no lie) of hours with these people, so that devotion is considered during the interview process.

At the end of the day, promo is just another way to grow at McIntire. As an added bonus, it also knocked out both my Marketing concentration and Advertising and Digital Media track, got me a job, made me incredible friends whom I now I consider family, and most importantly, showed me that effort pays off. But, boy, was it an absurd, absurd, ABSURD amount of work.

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