On December 22, a dozen teams of ninth graders at the Manhattan Early College School for Advertising (MECA) presented their end-of-semester product launch campaigns. These included a logo, tagline, media plan and original ads.
Using PowerPoint and animated graphics, the students introduced their inventions, such as a product that transforms a bathroom into a vacation setting, and a robot assistant that carries heavy packages. They shared research into similar products in their proposed market, and walked the audience through a “consumer’s journey,” a day that starts with seeing the new product on a subway poster and through online ads.
“Even at age 14, the students’ sophistication with social media is clear,” said Al Benoit, MECA’s liaison with the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s), which is one of the school's partners along with BMCC/CUNY and the NYC Department of Education.
MECA students begin taking college courses with BMCC professors in the 10th grade, and over a six-year period, earn a high school Regents Diploma and free associate degree from BMCC. Their focus on a career in media and advertising is blended with academics.
The product launch presentations took place in a setting that is part conference room and part high school classroom. One wall is lined with orange metal lockers. Posters outline tagline styles and ask, “What is branding?” A large whiteboard functions as a homework calendar.
While each team gave their presentation, their classmates sat in a half circle, taking notes. Their teacher, Lora Morgenstern, watched alongside a panel of industry professionals; Al Benoit as well as Gregory Bryant, MECA’s liaison at BMCC, and Berles Désiré, a branch strategist who specializes in advertising account planning.
“Google, Uber, LinkedIn; all these systems started with a simple idea,” Benoit reminded the student teams. He gave some notes on their research into demographics, and applications they might have considered.
The audience completed Final Evaluations that highlighted two advertising elements from each presentation, and Désiré summed up the event: “I’ve been impressed with the students’ ability to think critically and creatively,” he said. “This is the new generation of minds that will impact tomorrow’s marketing.”