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College Students Will Determine the Next Wave in Advertising

Advertising is powerful, says marketing specialist Sandi Edgar, and ethics matter.


Sandi Edgar is a big believer in spending time preparing the next generation. “College students,” she says, “are the decision-makers and voters who will be impacting the world greatly in the next few years.” Advertising, she notes, shapes public opinion. Because of that power, ethics in advertising is paramount. 

“To instill the importance of diversity, inclusion and ethics in advertising, those are all very powerful ideas,” says Edgar, an award-winning marketing specialist at Temerlin Advertising Institute at SMU Meadows School of the Arts. “We see messages all day and night. What we do with that, and how we leverage those messages – billboards, phone ads, etcetera, etcetera – is critical.

“We must ask, ‘What can we do to better this world?’ I think it’s a very straightforward answer, in understanding the ethics and principles in advertising. That’s why I care, and that’s why I do the work I do. Today’s students see what happens when companies like Facebook and Google lose trust with the public due to their advertising practices. Building a culture of transparency is deeply needed, and it needs to be ingrained at the collegiate level.” 

In addition to teaching business of the arts courses at SMU, Edgar is actively involved in preparing the next generation of advertisers through her work as advertising education chair for the Tenth District of the American Advertising Federation (AAF), which covers Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Northwest Louisiana. As the first to hold the newly created position, she creates and helps produce initiatives to educate students, the public and professional advertisers on best practices, ethics and more. Her role began with the local AAF Dallas chapter as education chair, where she collaborated with other positions to produce 17 programs and initiatives over the 2018-19 term. 

The AAF has recognized Edgar’s work with multiple awards this year. She was named one of their 2019 “Shining Stars,” awarded to the top 25 women in advertising in Dallas. She took second place in AAF’s National Club Achievement awards for Advertising Education, selected out of a field of 40,000 members and 200 clubs. She was also awarded AAF’s Tenth District Silver Medal, which recognizes one individual each year who have made outstanding contributions to advertising and who have been active in furthering advertising standards, creative excellence and responsibility in areas of social concern.

Edgar recently helped organize a career fair at SMU for advertising, communication and journalism students, with the help of SMU’s Hegi Family Career Development Center. But the event reached beyond SMU. With the encouragement of Steven Edwards, Distinguished Chair and professor of advertising at Temerlin, the fair was opened to students attending other colleges in the area as well as SMU students.

“Steve supports advertising education for all students, not just SMU students,” says Edgar. “That idea is rare in academia. This past February we organized a North Texas Communication Arts Career Day and invited related majors from all the universities and colleges around the area. Around 150 students attended, which was more than expected. Students walked from table to table visiting agency reps; media outlets; large companies in need of marketing, public relations or advertising people; the Better Business Bureau; and companies and organizations from all over the DFW area.” 

When it comes to positioning oneself in the advertising arena, Edgar has advice for students establishing careers in advertising.

“Number one is the power of networking,” says Edgar. “The advertising industry is relationship based, people know each other. Therefore, don’t burn bridges, do your best work (under-promise, over-deliver) and go to professional events. The majority of jobs are found through personal references in our industry, you have to get out there and meet people. 

“And this is key: Find a mentor in life—mine taught me to ask. Don’t be afraid to ask! The worst thing someone can tell you is no.”

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