The Search for Industry Inspiration and Authentic Advertising: An Interview with Ariel Flugum (COM ‘20)


Ariel Flugum is a former flight attendant pursuing her masters in advertising at the College of Communication. As an avid learner outside of the classroom, Flugum took the initiative to attend New York’s 2019 Advertising Week, a global gathering of marketing and communication leaders. It was a week full of seminars, workshops, and activities related to the advertising industry. The COMmunicator sat down with Ariel to learn more about her experience.


Amanda Hirsch: What was your experience at Ad Week like?

Ariel Flugum: I had a lot of fun. I learned a lot. I got to see some really great speakers. There was a lot of discussion around the current trends in advertising and the direction it is moving in. What are the mediums we are using? What is the consumer response to the way things are going? I definitely learned something from everything I experienced. 


AH: Who is invited to Ad Week? How were you asked?

AF: I love networking and learning new things. I had looked up different seminars, and I found Advertising Week. They have a student ticket, like a lot of industry events or conferences have, and it was only $99.00 for students. As part of the application for funding within BU, I had to write a proposal about how this would help me personally and professionally.


AH: Out of all the seminars you attended, who was your favorite speaker?

AF: One of my favorite seminars was from the CMO of Pinterest, Andréa Mallard. She shared her personal beliefs and values, and then went on to say how they aligned with Pinterests’. The platform feels they have an obligation to the user to make a positive space. There are things that they don’t allow on the platform, like political discussions. Then, you have people saying we should have the freedom to do whatever we want. It resonated with me because I’m a Pinterest user, I love it. 

She also feels like the age of interruption is over for advertising how we see ads around us all the time, and we filter them out without knowing. She feels like the age of inspiration is the next age. She talked about what their platform can do for advertisers. Pinterest is a place where people are looking for inspiration, products for a new outfit, or a recipe for a dinner party. There is a place for advertisers to have that recipe. 


AH: What was your biggest takeaway from Ad Week?

AF: Professionally, the importance of being authentic to who you are and telling your story as a creative. Also trying to find a company that resonates with your values. And then being open, not afraid to share my voice. The CEO of Ben & Jerry’s talked about social responsibility. People want to support brands they believe in and have the same values as them. Then on a personal level, one of the presenters, a Psychology Professor from Yale University, Dr. Laurie Santos, discussed the Happiness Lab. This discussion helped me understand happiness, stress, and anxieties that come with everything. 


AH: What is your stance on targeted ads?

AF: A, it depends on the platform. B, I just want to have a more clear choice.

It’s hard for me because I am a shopper, I love to get inspiration. I’m not against targeted ads because I definitely want ads that are more relevant to me. But I think there are other, more interesting ways to integrate targeted ads rather than just through social media. 

I went to a seminar for cord-cutters from Hulu and Netflix. They talked about an ad experience with binge watching. So if you have already watched a certain amount of episodes, they may say ‘watch this two minute sponsored ad for a free episode without ad disruption.’ When you want access to the app, you accept the terms and conditions. We are smart as consumers, but we have so many things going on. You’re burying my acceptance to give my information away or sell it to someone else to target me based on my information in legal jargon. Why couldn’t there be an organization or team at the company for these things? 


AH: Now more about you. What’s your background in advertising?

AF: I actually had no advertising experience but always loved ads. I studied International Affairs and politics as an undergrad and just wanted to travel the world. I ended up becoming a flight attendant and did that for three years. Flying was exhausting– I didn’t want to always be traveling. I moved to Boston with my best friend and have been here for almost five years. I ended up working for a travel company for a little over a year. Then, I got into recruitment marketing where I worked on our LinkedIn and Glassdoor relaunch. We put together an onboarding book to give employees a framework of their expectations. It was the first time I made something that was even kind of advertising related, that I could actually hold in my hand. To have that experience I was like, ‘This is what I want to do.’ We worked with other creative teams, and I kind of learned, ‘Oh, copywriting is a job? People get to brainstorm cool videos as a job?’ I started to look at jobs I wanted in advertising. I quickly realized I did not have enough experience for the jobs that I wanted, so I applied to grad school. 


AH: What do you see yourself doing when you graduate? Or long term?

AF: I want to be paid to be a copywriter. I’m from Georgia, so I’m definitely going to apply to jobs there and in the Boston area. I want to work as a copywriter at an agency for a year or two, but long term I see myself at an in-house brand. I would love to work in-house at Chick-Fil-A, which is one of my favorite brands. Long, long term I’m interested in social responsibility. I’m hoping eventually if I have my own agency or work at some niche agency that focuses on advertising for good or social responsibility. I want to help brands whether they are taking on something to champion or they have done something really good and want to showcase it to their consumers, but they don’t want it to come across as inauthentic. You want to stay authentic. 




Amanda Hirsch, Staff Writer

Amanda Hirsch is a senior at Boston University in the College of Communication majoring in mass communication. As a native of Needham, MA, she is a die hard Boston sports fan. When not watching a Red Sox or Patriots game, Amanda is likely to be spinning at SoulCycle or eating ice cream at JP Licks.

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