Be Good to Me: How Advertising Students Made San Jose Think Twice About Illegal Dumping

John Delacruz
Professor of Advertising
School of Journalism and Mass Communications
San Jose State University

Creativity is a powerful driver for brand communications. Entertaining and engaging, we tell the world stories across media channels that encourage consumption and allow brands a central role in shaping identities, communities and history. The skills learnt by students on creative programs can be a force for good. As educators in the field of advertising and other creative industries we should be guiding our students to make ethically minded decisions, not just to continue the cycle of consumption of which we, as communicators, are integral spokes.

In this case study they learn the importance of empathy and how this becomes a strength in the communications process, they learn to respond to a real life client and a real life target group. They also learn about issues that impact the community, the environment, and become better informed citizens. Our students have grown up with social currency, they are a sharing generation, global citizens, media aware and ethically minded. They are already switched on to alternative futures and therefore open to guidance on how to use their creativity for good.

This case study will focus on one specific example of service learning from the advertising program at San Jose State University. Our client was the City of San Jose’s Environmental Services Division in collaboration with CommUniverCity. The brief was to inform citizens of San Jose about illegal dumping. Our students crafted a campaign that spoke of the relationships between our everyday stuff and ourselves, reminding us to treat our treasures with respect when the time comes to let them go. They worked in an agency team and learnt about issues affecting urban neighborhoods and the environment. The program offered them experience reflecting the world of work and the world around them, civic responsibility and storytelling. They have hopefully become informed, engaged and aware citizens as well as effective and creative communicators.