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Advertising crash course in a real-world setting

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Participants in McKee Wallwork + Co.’s Advertising Boot Camp prepare to present the campaign they designed to corporate executives on Friday. Participant Adrienne Meyer is standing behind a group that includes, from left, Mario Griego, Gabe Ortiz and Carlos Martinez. (MARLA BROSE/JOURNAL)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Adrienne Meyer wants to live in Albuquerque. She also wants to work for an ad agency.

The recent University of Denver graduate does not think those are mutually exclusive goals, thanks in part to a monthlong stint inside one of the Duke City’s best-known marketing companies.

Meyer is one of 12 college students and new grads participating in McKee Wallwork + Company’s “Advertising Boot Camp,” a crash course in real-world marketing in a real-world setting. The campers spent June living the business at MW+C’s Sawmill area office and bolstering their own portfolios by building a campaign for an actual partner organization. They will wrap the program Monday by presenting their ideas to the client — in this case, the nonprofit accelerator Creative Startups.

Meyer said the camp taught her how to creatively collaborate with a team and funnel the best ideas into a cohesive campaign. She said it also reinforced her desire to work in an ad agency — preferably one in her hometown.

Albuquerque “is always going to be home,” she said. “I love it here.”

The firm’s executives want campers to see that Albuquerque is not a place they must flee to succeed. Most of the students — who pay $400 for the experience — come from local schools like University of New Mexico or, like Meyer, grew up in the Duke City.

“Albuquerque is losing some of its most talented young people because they believe that larger cities offer more options,” firm president Steve McKee, a UNM graduate who grew up in Albuquerque, said in a statement. “We designed the Boot Camp not only to give students valuable experience but more importantly to show them that real opportunity exists right here in New Mexico.”

McKee Wallwork has made a name for itself in the advertising world. It is AdAge’s reigning Small Agency of the Year in the Southwest region, it won a 2015 gold ADDY in the American Advertising Federation’s national competition and it represents clients from well beyond the state’s borders.

Katie DeLorenzo, the firm’s creative services manager, said much of the firm’s talent is homegrown. She, for example, is a New Mexico native and UNM Anderson School of Business graduate.

Of course, with a 22-person staff, MW+C can’t give all boot campers jobs, DeLorenzo said, but it has taken on graduates as interns. More important, she said, it demonstrates that the kind of work they want to do is indeed happening in Albuquerque.

“For us, it’s showing them all of the possibilities that exist not only at McKee Wallwork + Company, but here in our city and state,” she said.

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