As a marketing professional, I am biased towards the industry. But as it turns out, kids really do get a lot out of learning marketing skills in middle school. Over the years, our marketing apprenticeships have shown kids how to pitch and present like pros, a skill most adults grapple with. Thanks to partners like Jack Morton, McCann-Erickson, Cisco and Fidelity Investments our students have produced impressive PSAs, commercials, radio spots, ads and more. Middle schoolers across the nation know how to truly captivate an audience. After browsing through video after video of the best stuff on the market, we've pulled out our top five. Trust me, you'll want to buy what these kids are selling...
1. Fighting Child Obesity with McCann Erickson. For the past five years, the kids from Isaac E. Newtown Middle School in Harlem have been working with a group of volunteers from McCann Erickson in a program called Ad Lab. Last year the students produced not one, but five commercials about fighting child obesity.
In July, McCann-Erickson was recognized for their commitment to Citizen Schools at the prestigious 2012 IPG Inclusion Awards. The apprenticeship team was given the Silver Community Partnership Award, honoring their engagement with Citizen Schools. McCann-Erickson is a pioneer in the advertising industry, not just because of their innovative marketing campaigns, but because of their commitment to diversity and to the community.
2. Say No to Bullying, Say Yes to Tacos. With help from a team of Cisco volunteers, the kids at Campbell Middle School in California created four commercials in a campaign against bullying. They learned how to be an "ally" to those who are bullied and encouraged their fellow students to stop bullying at their school. Each commercial gives an example of how to be an ally, and uses what I think is the best tagline of all time.
3. A Garden Grows In Boston: Since 2007, Jack Morton has been transforming kids from Edwards Middle School in Boston, Massachusetts into experiential marketing executives. One of our all-star Jack Morton volunteers, Donald Gregorio, was recently recognized by Boston Magazine for his work with Citizen Schools.
With commitment from volunteers like Donald, our students can confidently say, "Look out Nike! We're coming for you," (as one of them adorably proclaims in this video).
4. Hugs for Thugs: In the fall of 2008, students from Edison Middle School in Brighton, Massachusetts teamed up with advertising executives from the firm, Almighty. After the students selected an issue they cared most about, bullying, they created a PSA.
By promoting one of the simplest human actions, they helped make their school a better place. After all, sometimes we just need a hug.
5. First Night, First Bite. Volunteers from Fidelity teamed up with the kids at McCormack Middle School in Dorchester, Massachusetts to create their own advertising firm called Citizen Agency. They created a campaign in support of First Night Boston, the annual New Year's Eve celebration.
Fidelity Graphic Designer, Cheryl Desjardin, helped the kids create the marketing plan from inception to execution. They even practiced their pitching skills in front of a live panel of judges.Talk about professional development at only 12 years old!
These videos represent five of many marketing apprenticeships Citizen Schools has provided over the years. By learning and experiencing the fast-paced "Mad Men" industry, our kids have become excellent communicators, a skill they'll need in high school, college and any career. Now I bet they'll think twice before fast-forwarding through commercials.