|UTPA Associate Professor of Art David Martinez spent two weeks this summer at the Chicago-based global advertising agency DraftFCB as a participant in the Advertising Educational Foundation's 2011 Visiting Professor Program.|
AEF is a nonprofit advertising foundation that provides educational content to enrich the understanding of advertising and its role in culture, society and the economy. Because of his area of expertise, Martinez was hosted by DraftFCB, a prominent Chicago advertising agency owned by Interpublic Group and formed by the 2006 merger of Foote, Cone & Belding (FCB) and Draft.
Martinez said he had worked in ad agencies previously but it had been some time ago so he applied to participate in the program.
"I think it's important to always reevaluate what you're doing in the classroom and how current what you are teaching is," Martinez said of his desire to become an AEF Visiting Professor.
Martinez has a Master of Fine Arts in visual communication from the School of the Art Institute in Chicago and his areas of teaching expertise include visual literacy, typography, graphic symbolism, narrative and sustainable design and graphic design history. He has been at UTPA since 2004.
During the two-week fellowship which began June 6, Martinez was able to meet with and shadow top designers, planners and representatives in the marketing and creative departments of DraftFCB. He said he was particularly interested in learning from them more about environmental design and consumer behavior because it is a topic he teaches in his class.
"I wanted to know how agencies collect data on shoppers - how do they buy, what sort of things trigger impulses to buy, types of studies that they do ... and what do they do with this data when they collect it," he said.
Projects assigned to his students in his Visual Communications class included repackaging a mall environment and using the latest technology to reach buyers. In his formal presentation to the DraftFCB staff required as part of the program, Martinez also described the research he and his class had done on rebranding the City of Edinburg and the City of Reynosa, Tamps., Mexico. The rebranding campaign is intended to encourage visitors to return to the Rio Grande Valley and Reynosa to shop despite the recent perceived violence and turmoil on both sides of the border.
"Because of some of the negative publicity we've been getting ... it was presenting a problem for us, for the students to come up with ways to get people to come back to the Valley and to go to Reynosa," Martinez said. "I also want the students to think about what is important about our culture that they could implement as part of that environmental plan."
Martinez said the experience at DraftFCB opened his eyes to the holistic approach to marketing using social media tools like Facebook and YouTube in branding campaigns and how cell phones are now an important tool for shopping and in how things are designed.
"People can now scan things at a store and get information through a phone app as to what are the better deals and when will they go on sale. They use those sorts of things when they're making their selections at a supermarket or any sort of store," Martinez said.
Martinez is looking forward to sharing what he learned with his students.
"They (DraftFCB) were really smart and talented folks. It will help me reevaluate what I do in the classroom and ... know what is going on out there so that I can adjust to the needs of the market by including what I've learned there into the classroom," he said. "That is really important."
Learn more about the Department of Art's programs at their website or go to the UTPA Graphic Design Program Facebook page.