Ogilvy, students create paths to build future careers


Each school year, fifth- and sixth-grade students at PS 123 are invited to apply to be the Future Marketers of America program in the PENCIL School Partnership with PENCIL Partner Ogilvy & Mather, a premier international advertising agency.

And because the creative process and business cycle don’t take summer breaks, Ogilvy comes into the school year ready for its Future Marketers to take on a big client project.

PENCIL at Ogilvy

Students from PS 123 take a creative break with their PENCIL Partner Ogilvy mentors.

This year, the PENCIL School Partnership features a campaign for IKEA furniture. How does the client work attach to the schoolwork like pieces of furniture with an Allen wrench? PENCIL connected the dots over a decade ago and the PENCIL School Partnership featuring the Future Marketers program started to make its mark.

IBM, Kool-Aid and Let’s Move!, First Lady Michelle Obama’s program to battle childhood obesity, previously have all been featured in the year-long PENCIL School Partnership skills development project. Ogilvy takes the students through an entire project process, hitting on all the important aspects of advertising: Planning, creative brainstorming, drafting, production and more.

During a recent workshop, the students immersed themselves fully in the creative process by working together on the client’s creative brief and brainstorming ideas for the commercial.

Members of Ogilvy’s creative team showed the students several kinds of commercials and ads so that the research could inform the process better.

The collaboration was not limited to the students: Members of Ogilvy’s creative team see the kid-perspective as a vital asset to the entire process.

“It’s great to have kids’ perspectives because they’re young and incredibly creative,” Virginia McLure, Artist-In-Residence at Ogilvy said. “Because they’re young, they offer unique opinions and insights that most adults wouldn’t even think of.”

The students also see how the PENCIL School Partnership helps

PS 123 students participate in a brainstorming session as they discuss the client brief at PENCIL Partner Ogilvy.

PS 123 students participate in a brainstorming session as they discuss the client brief at PENCIL Partner Ogilvy.

them with important skills that work inside and outside of the classroom.

Giving students the opportunity to see the inner workings of a business is critical at a young age; young students, like those at PS 123, have career ideas beyond the traditional ones at that age.

But showing students the inner workings of an advertising agency goes beyond a standard field trip to an office, especially with the level of employee engagement with which Ogilvy has provided for 14 years.

“We’re exposing these kids to things they’ve never seen before, things they maybe didn’t even realize was a job,” Habibatou Magassa, Digital Producer at Ogilvy, said. “These new experiences give them a glimpse into a world they didn’t even know existed.”

Habibatou also said that helping the students develop skills was important, but always making sure the lessons were taught in a fun manner.

“The excitement is contagious,” she said. “The kids pump us up in our own brainstorming and planning, and we’re always surprised by their reactions and answers in ice breakers and other games. They’re always prepared to answer.”

This PENCIL School Partnership also features a unique added bonus in order to fuel the creative process: Each student is paired with an Ogilvy mentor and the pairs break for lunch and enjoy time together before getting back to work building and creating the next great ad campaign.