The BYU AdLab is meant to be an environment closely resembling professional advertising in order to enhance the academic experience for students in the department.
In 2003, Doug McKinlay, who first thought of setting up a lab of this sort, met Jeff Sheets, a then part-time instructor. The two shared a vision, a love for students and a desire to build a great advertising program for the department. After months of hard work and recruiting a few clients, the Advanced Advertising Lab slowly came together. Sheets became the lab’s manager and has served as the inside face and the outside voice of the Ad Lab ever since.
In short, the Ad Lab is a student-managed, professionally-mentored ad agency. It serves as the central hub of the department’s advertising program, giving students experience in account management and planning, brand development, media strategy, creative development, art direction and copy writing.
The lab is integrated into advertising curriculum so that each student in the program has some connection to ongoing projects. Each year, approximately 15 students run the day-to-day operations of the client projects in senior management/creative roles, and another 40 students participate above and beyond their classroom assignments.
The lab’s first clients were local, start-up businesses and campus departments. Today, the lab’s client list includes Fortune 500 companies, world-renowned nonprofit organizations and pro-social causes. The lab, partnered with the Bradley Public Relations Agency, now fills 1,600 square feet with the latest technology students need to produce quality projects that can compete with professional agencies thanks to a generous donation from the Howard and Cristi Bulloch Family.
The Ad Lab provides students hands on experience working for an ad agency before they graduate. Ad Lab students have worked on projects for major corporations such as Ford Motor Company, Walden Media, Black and Decker, and the Ad Council.
In January 2012 the BYU Ad Lab held its first recruiting fair, where they showcased sixty students' skills for visitors from U.S. advertising agencies.
In 2007, the Ad Lab made its first appearance at the Global L’Oreal Brandstorm competition in Paris. The Ad Lab, which was represented by Jamie Bond, Zachary R. Tolbert, and Stanton Jones won first for the Best Communications Campaign.
In 2008, Monica McGhie, Blake Hadley, and Matt Miller represented the Ad Lab at Global L'Oreal Brandstorm competition, claiming both the International Finals Top Prize and the Best Communication Campaign. They beat out teams from 38 countries and became the first team from the United States to ever win the top prize.
In 2010, Nathan S. Wigglesworth, Devin Lubean, Brad Hall and Patrick Koelling won a 2010 Gold ADDY for a Doritos Guardian advertising campaign. In addition to a National award, the ad won two awards on the district level, two awards on the state level and an additional international award. The ad was created by the AdLab students partnered with the film program to create the TV spot. It was the first truly collaborative effort within the college to combine the creative resources of advertising and film to make award winning ads.