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Can You Re-Train Obsolete Ad Professionals?

International Herald Tribune reports that while some advertising and media industry executives seem to take the spread of consumer ad-avoidance technology like podcasts, digital video recorders (DVR) and video-on-demand (VOD) as a personal insult, Michael Conrad is not surprised that people are choosing to reject commercial messages.

"People love great advertising, but they don't want the bad stuff, the mediocre stuff -- and a lot of it is just annoying," said Conrad, a former worldwide chief creative officer at the ad agency Leo Burnett. "A lot more has to be done to produce excellence and avoid mediocrity."

In an effort to address this apparent shortcoming, Conrad, who retired from Leo Burnett in 2003, has turned his attention to a new project: the Berlin School of Creative Leadership, an academic program aimed at teaching advertising and media professionals to lead their organizations in more imaginative ways.

In September, the Berlin School will start a part-time executive MBA program aimed at people who work in businesses like advertising, entertainment and journalism. While the academic world has no shortage of MBA courses, Conrad, president of the Berlin School, said this was the first program tailored specifically for creative professionals in these industries.

The school will not to teach students how to create ad campaigns. Plenty of other programs already exist for that purpose, including the Miami Ad School and the Texterschmiede in Hamburg. Instead, the Berlin School will focus on managing creativity within businesses.

Now, if only someone could develop a school to teach conservative clients -- blamed by many people in the ad agency world for the bland work they produce -- to take a few risks.

Or, perhaps trying to fix what's wrong with the current advertising business model is simply a wasted effort. Maybe the ultimate solution will be to promote content independently created by skilled consumer talent -- they don't have to un-learn all the pre-conceived baggage that's clearly handicapping the legacy advertising industry professional.

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