Rick Boyko is the outgoing Director of the VCU Brandcenter and former Co-President & Chief Creative Officer of Ogilvy North America. Here is an open-letter he wrote to the next director of the school, for whom an active search is underway.
Over the past eight years it is has been my privilege and pleasure to have taught and learned from the over 700 VCU Brandcenter students who have graduated and gone on to work at just about every agency in the world including Wieden+Kennedy, TBWA/Chiat/Day, Goodby Silverstein & Partners, CP+B, Martin Agency and Droga 5, as well as with marketers like Target, Audi, Nike, Anthropologie, Lego, Google and Microsoft.
During my tenure, each class of students has demonstrated they expect and want to be challenged by someone who will instill in them a passion and caring for our craft. I’ve also witnessed a movement by them as they have transitioned from doing ads to having a distinct interest in solving marketing problems by bringing a brand story to life in new ways, which adds meaning and value to a greater good. One good example of this is our recent Still4Japan web, PR and social-media campaign, which will urge people to remember the tsunami victims.
This is why our curriculum has changed six times over the past eight years and why it has to continue to change and evolve to meet with their desire to do things differently. As we begin our search for the next director of the VCU Brandcenter, here are a few thoughts on what he or she can expect and look forward to in helping fuel the industry with the next generation of talent.
- First and foremost, the students are constantly curious so you can expect them to demand the same of you.
- You can expect them to challenge and question everything. They will not do things the way they’ve always been done.
- They are digital natives. You can expect them to infuse digital thinking and strategy into any problem they are given, making it necessary for those above them to better understand the digital landscape as well.
- Expect them to want to affect change and therefore try to solve social issues around sustainability and creating a better life by asking the brands they work for to do the same.
- Expect their interests to include all aspects of branding from product design, package design, in-store display and content development, making companies like Ideo, Redscout and What If? places of interest to them.
- You can expect them to have a strong entrepreneurial spirit and a desire to create their own intellectual property, challenging the school and the companies that hire them to infuse engineering into their thinking and understanding.
- Finally, being around the students, you can expect to be inspired and reinvigorated about the possibilities that this business offers, ensuring that whoever takes on this position will find it the most rewarding job they will ever have.