Jacht Ad Lab enters seventh year in CoJMC program

Jacht Ad Lab enters seventh year in CoJMC program

Tuesday, October 11, 2016 - 1:30pm
Jacht Ad Lab's door surrounded by hanging lights
Jacht Ad Lab has its own space in the Haymarket in downtown Lincoln.

by Savanah Baker

Jacht Ad Lab is in its seventh year as part of the College of Journalism & Mass Communications’ class choices, helping to create more qualified and experienced candidates for the work field.

“I went to a conference at the University of Oklahoma and they had this beautiful space in which they had created a student ad agency, but they weren’t doing very much,” said Amy Struthers, professor in the College of Journalism & Mass Communications. “I thought, ‘The idea is good but I’d like to do it differently.’”

Jacht began as a special topics course in the College of Journalism and Mass Communications to teach students about the fundamentals of working in a communications firm. But with assistance from Nebraska Global, the course became a living, breathing advertising and communications agency.

Jacht is a student-run communications firm taken for class credit that works to help students develop a total understanding of how businesses and agencies are run.

“I had people telling me that my students understood their particular role…but they don’t get the bigger overall picture,” Struthers said.

Thus began the start of the important role Jacht plays in helping students develop the holistic view of a workplace. Jacht is a class available to students in all college departments, serving as an advertising and public relations elective.

“One of the cool things that happens at Jacht is people get to actually work with students across campus,” Struthers said. “They are working in teams of all disciplines to make a communications firm function.”

Dean Maria Marron of the College of Journalism & Mass Communications agreed and said, “A huge benefit is the experiential learning opportunities that Jacht offers. I think it is a great element to have on one’s vitae because it immediately shows that one has worked for real clients and can do any aspect of work in an advertising agency.”

Each year provides growth for Jacht, including their list of clientele. Jacht now services companies like Lincoln Public Works by helping them rebrand their bus system. In the past, Jacht assisted Pinnacle Bank Arena with social media during its initial construction.

“We have been recognized by the two biggest ad agencies in the region, Bailey Lauerman and Swanson Russell, as a talent pipeline,” Struthers said. Both companies have invested in Jacht financially, as well as offering mentorship to the program.

The mentors help students better understand what it looks like taking on more clients, and how to best manage their current client list. A select few of these mentors work as co-teachers, as well. They assist students in developing their leadership skills, and have helped Jacht build a full student leadership team on its staff, including a CEO, CFO, CMO and COO.

“These are students who have a wealth of experience behind them,” Struthers said. “They have one or more semesters in Jacht already and then are chosen by me and the co-teachers.”

Julio Toinga is one example of a student who started as a team member before stepping into a leadership role. Toinga works as the COO at Jacht but originally began as an account executive and project manager.

“I’ve gained a lot of communications skills and I’ve gained a lot of confidence in myself (because of Jacht),” Toinga said. “I’ve learned to put the skills I do in class into the real world because we work with real clients.”

Prior students with experience in Jacht have gone on to start their own companies, including four in Lincoln, Forgelight Creative, Red Thread, Pixel Bakery and Revolution 360.

“I believe Jacht and our interactions with Nebraska Global help inspire people after graduation to create something new and build something new,” Struthers said.