Creative advertising program expands to accommodate increased demand

The University of Georgia Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication and The Creative Circus, a top portfolio school in Atlanta, are partnering for a third year to offer Summer at The Circus, a unique, hands-on learning opportunity for students interested in exploring creative advertising.

Open to a diverse group of undergraduates from around the country, enrollment in the eight-week competitive program has more than doubled since its inception. To accommodate the program's increased demand, up to 40 applicants will be accepted for summer 2015, more than ever before.

The growing interest in the program mirrors a larger scale trend of agencies ramping up hiring, particularly in the Atlanta market, according to David Haan, executive director of The Creative Circus. He described it as an “Atlanta advertising Renaissance.”

“We qualitatively see a lot of good talent coming to Atlanta that we haven't seen before,” Haan said. “There's a very real purpose that we serve to the agency community locally. Our partnership is good for the area.”

With experiential learning at its core, Summer at The Circus picks up where university classes leave off, according to Tom Reichert, head of the Grady College Department of Advertising and Public Relations.

Jay Hamilton, an associate professor of advertising at the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, assists a student during the Summer at The Circus program.

“It takes students to the next level,” Reichert said. The program is held at The Creative Circus. Students get hands-on training from industry professionals with the oversight and support of Grady College faculty. “Students get to go off campus and study at this wonderfully artistic site that inspires creativity.”

The campus of The Creative Circus, located in Atlanta, inspires creativity.

“The nature of creative education — as it's been developed over the last 25 years — is very little on textbook, very little on lecture,” said Haan. “It's a lot of doing, presenting and critiquing, getting feedback from not only faculty but classmates as well.”

Haan describes the program as a perfect fit for students with interests in art, music, illustration and writing.

“These students, they're the ones that do the creative aspects of a project. But they're kind of alone in what they do. A lot of people don't understand what drives them,” Haan explained. “Then suddenly they get into an environment at The Creative Circus that's all about creativity and they're surrounded by a lot of like-minded folks that express their creativity in different ways. It's very stimulating for them to come together in an environment where creativity is celebrated. They discover themselves a little more.”

The program is divided into two sessions, each emphasizing valuable industry skill sets. The first four weeks focus on creative writing and copywriting; layout and design; color theory; branding and personality; critical thinking; portfolio building and pitching ideas; and advanced techniques in Adobe CS6. The second session centers on creative problem solving and concepting; game development; storytelling; packaging and marketing; and lighting, framing, and visual storytelling.

Students brainstorm with faculty of The Creative Circus.

Based on student feedback, the curriculum has evolved. Participants are now given more time on assignments to hatch better ideas, Haan said. The addition of student workers also provides more hands-on assistance.

Matt Klugman, a UGA senior advertising major from Savannah, Georgia, had previously interned in advertising sales, social media management, and Internet market research, but was seeking experience in creative. As a participant in the 2014 Summer at The Circus program, Klugman said he worked his brain in ways like never before.

“Our assignments had no boundaries and no rules,” Klugman said. “We were thrown into a sea of ideas and told not to drown. And honestly, I loved it.”

“It was an amazing experience,” said Austin Sprague, a marketing and advertising senior at University of Loyola Chicago from Miami, Florida. “I believe that it is such a beneficial summer to actually see if the creative side of advertising is for you. The teachers are very caring and personable and yet at the same time know the industry and how to make the lessons engaging. I highly recommend it.”

Students can earn up to six hours of upper-level academic credit upon completion of Summer at The Circus. To learn more about the program, including how to apply, visit UGA students are also invited to attend one of two informational sessions on Tuesday, Oct. 21: 2-3 p.m. in the Drewry Room or 7:30-8:30 pm. in MLC 101 (during the Ad Club meeting).

Date: October 17, 2014
Author:  Stephanie Moreno, 706-542-4031,
Contact:  Tom Reichert,  (706) 542-1613,