From left, Taso Mouhteros '91, Cameron Gaylord '09, Emerson Sosa '10, and Sam McNerney '11.

In a night filled with laughs, open discussion, storytelling, and secrets behind the reality of the advertising industry, four alumni returned to the Hill to share their experiences over dinner, part of a “Foundations in Advertising” panel hosted by the Career Center.

Featured panelists included Taso Mouhteros ’91, a co-founder and past creative lead at Plum Agency; Cameron Gaylord ’09, business development director at Snap+Style Business; Emerson Sosa ’10, associate director of media, multicultural at Mediacom; and Sam McNerney ’11, a behavioral strategist at Publicis.

Each panelist began by giving an overview of his work, explaining that some were more creative-driven while others were more account-driven. They also revealed their differing perspectives and roles within the industry, noting their different majors and interests while at Hamilton.

The panelists also gave detailed explanations of the ad creation process, referencing some of today's popular brands—including the brands that the panelists’ organizations represented—such as Tide and Heineken, among others. They outlined all the strategic steps and questions advertisers must consider to create the best ad proposals for clients.

McNerney paralleled writing a paper and shaping its big idea into a clear thesis to shaping a big idea into an effective ad. He said, “At the end of the day, there’s always going to be a need for the ad industry and people with good ideas ... to solve that last, final problem: How are we going to get this message to this person so that they’re going to do something?”

Also, beyond any advertising technical jargon or processes, the panelists emphasized that the most important skills to have in the industry are not necessarily ad-specific. They relayed the importance of communicating clearly, simply, and with an audience in mind.

“One thing that connects all of our different roles and our experiences is storytelling: whether it be creating a visual spot, or really selling an overall idea of how to approach a new marketplace and fill a niche, or finding what data backs up the storytelling,” Sosa commented. “Advertising is all about trying to convince people, so I think that the entire mantra of ‘Know thyself’ and having an emphasis on writing and speaking—those are things that will never escape you within this industry no matter what role you’re going to be in.”

By the end of the discussion, each alumnus suggested using resources that Hamilton provides and to be active in their career search. Suggestions included creating a portfolio of written or visual advertising pieces, going to the Career Center to learn how to write a resume and cover letter, utilizing the alumni directory, attending on-campus events with alumni, and understanding the roles and responsibilities of the industry.

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