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Paul Jackson

College of Business Faculty

by John Smith - Oct. 5, 2018

Paul Jackson

He grew up the son of an advertising executive in Chicago, and Paul Jackson, an associate professor of Marketing in Ferris State University’s Advertising/Integrated Marketing Communications program said, respectfully, his dad may not have appreciated all that there is to consider in the current state of his chosen field.

Jackson also accepts that there has been more than a significant change in the methods and messaging that are employed to promote a product or brand since he came to Ferris’ campus in the early 1970s.

“I had been on the faculty at the University of Illinois for a couple of years after I completed my degree,” Jackson said. “I had come to the conclusion that, at that level, the emphasis was on supporting the graduate student and undergrads were treated like a commodity.”

A colleague who had been a Ferris student gave him some hope and a new direction by indicating Jackson might be a good match for what was then a state college in Big Rapids, Michigan.

“There had been a resignation in my discipline immediately prior to my filing an application with Ferris,” Jackson said. “A day after my interview, I was hired. Once I got into the classroom, I found that difference I had been seeking. There were many first-generation college students who were here to learn. That sincerity and focus was very endearing to me. It meant I had found the opportunity and situation I had been after.”

Jackson said one of the early opportunities that presented itself was incorporating the use of an audio/visual studio in the Interdisciplinary Resources Center.

“It gave our students the chance to put their messages on tape, even film or videotape, so we made as much use of the studio as we could,” Jackson said. “I guess word spread as the studio became popular across a number of university programs, but we were glad to make it a part of our learning.”

Some of his first undergraduate Advertising students are captains of the industry or looking back fondly on their careers since the program has already celebrated its golden anniversary.

“I am still in touch with some of those earliest students. It is a gratifying roster of successful and accomplished professionals in their field,” Jackson said.

The methods and metrics offered to and employed by those late 20th-century Advertising and Marketing students hold less significance in the technologically-driven market of today, Jackson said.

“There has been a tremendous evolution in the method of delivery and where the audience is taking in their messages,” Jackson said. “The public has moved on to newer, mobile communications which leaves the industry confused on how they can accurately assess the outcomes of their campaign, or message.”

The juxtaposition of social media in the marketplace has presented a new avenue for reaching audiences, but Jackson said determining whether a promotion went well, or failed remains a foggy prospect.

“How valid are the metrics that are generated? Just what is a Facebook ‘like’ worth?” Jackson said. “The changes in advertising have come about so quickly, there may be an equal frustration for academics and the consumers who are facing these messages.”

The concept of ‘fake news’ that is present in social media and other electronic communication has its impact on advertising, which Jackson said has given rise to ambiguous messages being offered to the consumer.

“It is incumbent on us, as academics, to make sure that students are observant and give pause to consider their product,” Jackson said. “There are messages designed to misguide the recipient, which I find indicative of how much the business of advertising and branding has changed. I owned an agency, one of my daughters owns one, currently. I am glad I am not in the field right now.”

Jackson said there is some hope for more traditional media being revitalized as a method to promote and inform the public about products and concepts.

“We make sure that our students grasp that advertising is not a linear process,” Jackson said. “I believe that millennials may help lead the charge that revives some forms of ‘conventional’ media, which may bring advertising back into an operational balance.”

Jackson said his choice to work with undergraduate students at Ferris has remained a correct one, more than 45 years after accepting his position in the College of Business.

“It is fun since the student remains our top priority,” Jackson said. “It has been a constant in my time at Ferris, and we prepare our students very well.”

Jackson also said the university’s arrangement to place Advertising in its College of Business is a sensible and advantageous one for both faculty and students.

“At most schools, the program would be aligned with other communications degrees,” Jackson said. “Our Advertising and Integrated Marketing Communications program is wisely placed and makes us a strong choice for students considering this area for their career.”

Jackson said the College of Business is currently involved in taking stock of the AIMC program structure to assure that it reflects best practices in a technologically-driven marketplace.

“There is a great deal of collaboration taken up in the marketing, media distribution, public relations, sales promotions and the act of professionally selling a brand,” Jackson said. “It has a significant impact on the look of fast food outlets, the shoes we wear, our glasses and so many commonplace things around us. To be successful, we seek to help our students consider and explore those very wide parameters that are found in the marketplace.”

PHOTO CAPTION: Paul Jackson is an associate professor of Marketing in Ferris State University’s Advertising/Integrated Marketing Communications program, in the College of Business. He was recognized for 45 years of service to the university in 2017.

John Smith is the communications specialist in the News Services and Social Media department of University Advancement and Marketing.

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