“Agency” course advocates for domestic peace

By Marisa Sobotka, Campus Reporter

Esther Bell
Columbia’s “Agency” course—including senior cinema art and science major Kyle Johannsen, senior advertising major  Penny Liu and senior design major Christina Buczek—created an ad campaign with the Center for Advancing Domestic Peace.

Advertising students worked with Chicago’s Center for Advancing Domestic Peace to create a series of local advertisements set to be released this spring on domestic abuse.

Columbia’s “Agency” course, which provides students experience with real clients, has worked with the center for the past three semesters to create radio advertisements, videos and posters, according to Laurence Minsky co-professor of the class and associate professor in the Communication & Media Innovation Department.

The current class is expanding its work to include designing educational brochures and the organization’s website, Minsky said.

The Center for Advancing Domestic Peace is a nonprofit organization that aims to “provide comprehensive, culturally responsive, direct service programs focused on rehabilitating” domestic abuse perpetrators, according to co-Executive Director and co-Founder of the center Christine Call.

“[Previously] there were very limited resources for men who had abused an intimate partner,” Call said.

According to Minsky, the advertisements are an “implied call to action.” One advertisement states “Stop the abuse before it happens again,” explaining that the center offers men and women classes on how to have healthy relationships, be successful and negotiate conflict safely.

The idea of  creating advertisements for an organization that starts at the source of abuse is what made senior advertising major Luisa Martinez want to work with the ad group assisting the center last semester.

Martinez said for many students, this was their first real client experience. The posters the class created will be hung in Chicago neighborhoods, local businesses and the Circuit Court of Cook County.

“We are targeting attorneys and people in courtrooms because they are the ones sent to the center when the court mandates anger management,” Martinez said.

Students have also collaborated with the center on radio ads that are currently broadcast on select stations. In December 2016, the ads were played on B96 and caused a listener to identify himself as an abuser and come to the center for help, according to Call.

“That was just awesome to hear, and it told us that what we are doing is really going in the right direction,” Call said.

Martinez said the advertisement’s designs were a team effort between the organization and the class. Call said the center supplied specific ideas but went back and forth with students.

“We had control over the language, and they were the designers in how those were put together to make an impact,” Call said.

The students have done a great job at demonstrating the availability of the center’s resources in the Chicago community, she added.

“The collaboration has been great because they have learned a lot of new things about an issue they may have not been aware of and we got to be the benefit of their awesome work,” Call said.