The story of Western Sydney Ad School

Two seasoned creatives, Matt Smith and Rocky Ranallo, a duo with a combined 80 years of industry experience, founded the Western Sydney Ad School in Parramatta, with a mission to make advertising education more accessible and inclusive. Rocky boasts an impressive 45-year career. He has worked in senior Creative Director roles at The Campaign Palace, DDB, Clemenger/BBDO and BWM/Dentsu. Matt, with a diverse 35-year stint in the industry, has held roles from running his own agency to serving as Regional Creative Director at Saatchi & Saatchi Paris. He’s worked at BWM as Creative Group Head on Telstra, Leo Burnett Sydney, Whybin TBWA Sydney and Saatchi & Saatchi New Zealand. Their goal is to impart their wealth of industry wisdom, as well as the knowledge of other industry professionals, to a new generation of creative minds who might not have otherwise considered a career in advertising.

The school, now in its fourth year, is affordable and accessible. Situated in Parramatta, it aims to attract students from all walks of life, promoting a diverse range of perspectives and ideas within the advertising landscape. The founders recognised a class divide in Sydney, symbolised by the “Red Rooster line” separating the Eastern and Western suburbs. Western Sydney Ad School was established as an alternative, inclusive institution breaking away from the norm, attracting students who may not be starting out with industry connections or financial means.

Supported by industry heavyweights

The school’s distinctive approach involves a 12-week course, with Thursday sessions dedicated to exploring new briefs, discussing real-world examples, and critiquing student work. The emphasis is on collaborative learning, fostering a space where ideas flourish. Western Sydney Ad School has garnered support from major agencies like DDB, CHEP, OGILVY, and DENTSU, offering financial assistance for student enrollment and guaranteeing internships for the best talent from the West. The unique proposition lies in a commitment to providing opportunities to a more diverse set of creative minds.

The curriculum

Brief 1.  Posters. Ideas can come from anywhere.
Brief 2. Print. Insights before ideas.
Brief 3. Radio. Think Visually.
Brief 4. TV. No one’s watching.
Brief 5. Digital. Technology isn’t an idea.
Brief 6. PR. You earned it.
Brief 7. Ambient/Experiential. Stopping people in their tracks.
Brief 8. Digital/Social. It’s not all about likes.
Brief 9. Integrated. What’s the big idea?
Brief 10. Strategy. Don’t talk to strangers.

What happens in the classroom?

The program is an intensive, and collaborative 12-lesson, once a week course that is designed to build students a portfolio of ad concepts ranging from TV, print, radio, social and digital, that they can then use when interviewing for a job in an advertising agency. Each week the tutorials are held in Parramatta. Students are given a new brief each week to work on and there are 10 briefs in all. The last 2 weeks of the course are for refining portfolios ready for any prospective interviews. Tutors critique the work with students in a collaborative and respectful atmosphere.

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