By Matt Cather
CAROLINA NEWS & REPORTER
A few weeks ago, Phillip Burrows stayed up for 24 hours at the University of South Carolina putting together an advertising campaign for a Columbia non-profit. The experience, called CreateAthon, still resonates with him today.
Students and mentors power through 24 intense hours without sleep to develop advertising and marketing communications for multiple good causes throughout South Carolina. Among the agencies: Kids' Chance of SC, South Carolina HIV Task Force and Carolina Children's Garden. CreateAthon was founded in 1998 in Columbia by Riggs Partners and has served more than 1,300 community organizations with 3,500 marketing projects worth more than $24 million.
To help students with this opportunity, the University of South Carolina brings in alumni or mentors and other community leaders like Jennifer Fisher who work side-by-side with the students to produce some amazing work.
"I apply my real world experiences to their curriculum and lead them down the right path and give them a few pointers along the way," said Fisher, who has been in the advertising field for more than 15 years and is the current media planner at WIS-TV.
The main objectives of the CreateAthon are advancing the causes of deserving nonprofits, building student skills and bringing professional mentors and students together for an experience that is extremely challenging but rewarding.
Fourth-year advertising student Phillip Burrows sees this opportunity as a vital experience to help with his future career.
"I'm probably going to have to put together ads or campaigns on the fly or short notice — the clients are always changing their mind — so having the experience of trying to come up with something in 24 hours that has to be ready to go the next day is a cool experience," he said.
Even though the CreateAthon is made to help students gain a knowledgeable and very rewarding experience, they aren't the only ones who consider this program to be a learning experience.
"This is going to be a learning experience for me too," Fisher said. "There's so many different things that media is shifting into these days, so these students may be learning things that I don't know, so I'm going to take away some pieces of advice and a little bit of sleep deprivation."
Once he caught up on his sleep, Phillip Burrows reflected on the long but exciting 24 hour event.
"I accomplished some good portfolio work and just knowing what it's like to work in a busy environment where everyone is working really hard and trying to do the best work that they can," is useful, Burrows said.