Mel White has spent over twenty-five years perfecting her craft in advertising. Seventeen of those years were spent as a veteran of the New York City advertising scene where she worked as a creative/art director at agencies such as Young & Rubicam, Grey, Publicis, and D’Arcy. She’s worked on a range of accounts, from packaged goods to technology, for brands like Microsoft, Land Rover, MINI Cooper, Crest, and Dannon. White also has big pitch experience for national brands such as Famous Footwear, Sleep Number, Amerprise Financial, Transitions Lenses, and Earthlink, and has been instrumental in winning pitches for new accounts – most notably at Young & Rubicam and Ogilvy.
Now, Mel White is most known for preparing the future of advertising as a professor at Syracuse University. Being an expert in creative visual advertising and gender diversity in advertising agency creative departments, White explored creative visual advertising in a recent paper and conference titled, “Tracing the Emergence and Dominance of Visual Solution Advertising: A Preliminary Study.” She studied gender diversity by partnering with a fellow assistant professor at Syracuse’s Newhouse School for a mixed-methods study that entailed the compiling and analysis of personnel data from dozens of New York City agencies. The study seeks to investigate a commonly questioned statistic saying that creative leadership at advertising agencies is, on average, 11% women and 89% men. It also allows the opportunity to explore the factors and obstacles that women creatives report that make it difficult or nearly impossible to climb the totem pole at advertising agencies.
What percentage of the whole class reaches award-winning work?
It’s no longer just the Professor, or friends, or parents saying the student work is good, it’s now the ad industry that has given it the stamp of approval
With the semester’s end, what kind of advice do you give to the class?
I tell the students that the best ways to stand out in an ad agency are to: create outstanding, fresh ideas; put in the hours; ask Creative Directors if they need help on a project; try to get on any of the projects that allow for the kind of creativity that could lead to an award; promote diversity in your work, such as in casting; and you and your creative partner should each present equally.