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USF in London

USF students in London

When Drake Goebelbecker got on a plane headed to London in June, he had no idea how a global advertising agency worked.

"I had only visited small, local agencies," Goebelbecker, a USF business advertising major said. "Until I went to London, that's all I knew."

But when Goebelbecker joined more than 180 students studying abroad in London this summer, he enrolled in the basic marketing course with professor Carol Osborne that allowed him to work in the offices of some of the world's leading ad agencies such as J. Walter Thompson, Mindshare, SapientNitro, Wieden+Kennedy, Mother London, and amvBBDO.

Osborne's highly interactive study abroad program includes visits to 10-15 international headquarters and European offices for US ad agencies. Students have a unique opportunity to tour each agency, work in teams on client and creative briefs, and pitch it to company executives. Osborne recalls a tour at amvBBDO that let students participate in ad critiques, and allowed students to see how advertising concepts are tested before being executed.

"I don't think a lot of students get this opportunity," Osborne said. "We are so grateful that these firms open their doors to USF in this way. The generosity of time and wisdom was appreciated by the students and some gave up four hours to take the students through the "making of an ad" to pitching their responses to client briefs."

Goebelbecker says he expected to learn a lot about the UK and global business as part of the study abroad experience. But he didn't realize how special Osborne's class would be.

"As a freshman, I didn't have much hands-on experience doing advertising work for real clients," Goebelbecker said. "It was great to be thrown into a creative storm to see what each team came up with."

Prior to the visits, Osborne had the class do research on some of the agencies they'd be visiting, so they could ask intelligent questions.

"Without Professor Osborne and the trips to the agencies, I wouldn't have learned so much while in London," Goebelbecker said.

Goebelbecker, whose team had the winning pitch at Mindshare, created a campaign for a retail company that involved a new smartphone app feature and a partnership with Spotify. Each team presents a 10-minute pitch, involving storyboards, strategic plans, and creative design samples.

Osborne says the agency visits are her favorite part of the program, noting that the companies genuinely care about the students' experience and want them to leave the office that day with more than just a tour. In some of the agencies, the CEO made time to come speak with students.

The tours provide students with a diverse range of agencies specializing in different areas. For instance, SapientNitro's head of global strategy showed students virtual reality bits they are implementing for clients like McDonald's and British Airways, explaining to students how advertising can also be technological solutions. Other agencies like Mindshare focused more on media buying and placement.

"Each agency shows the students a different marketing philosophy about strategy, account planning, creative, and the types of brands and clients they represent," Osborne said. "They all provided so much wisdom and did it with a sense of humor. They really connected and wanted to hear the students' ideas."

Students who participate in the month-long program stay at the University College of London dormitories, which are centrally located near two major London train stations. They received a card that and a 3-day "London Pass" that allows students to travel on public transportation for free, skip the line at museum exhibits, and get in for free at historic sites like the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace and Parliament.

"Experience trumps classroom learning every time, especially in business," Osborne said. "Our 'lab' is the hustle and bustle. Students are visiting these agencies not just to be entertained, but to take notes, question the methods, and cherish the moment."