Recognition for Investing in Eller
Gifts that Made a Difference
Success in 30 Seconds: Phil Hagenah Helps Advertising Students Get Off to a Great Start
When marketing alumnus Phil Hagenah (BSBA Marketing ’69) was looking for a way to give back to his alma mater, he focused on a project that helps students get a head start in advertising. The president and executive producer of Film House Inc. and member of the Eller College’s National Board of Advisors established an endowment to support advertising education at the UA.
Funds from the endowment will cover travel costs for students in the UA Advertising Federation to attend the National Student Advertising Competition regional finals annually. “The students have made a lot of progress in this competition over the years,” says Hagenah. Marketing instructor Ed Ackerley serves as faculty advisor to the team, Studio 320. “Ed has a real passion for what he’s doing, and the students are absorbing that from him,” says Hagenah.
The competition helps prepare students for the real world of advertising, where executives are constantly challenged to hold on to existing product contracts and win new ones. Once they get out there in that real world, Hagenah says, “I tell them to go to a big market.”
“I started at the bottom, in the mail room of an ad agency for a summer job,” he continues. After graduation, Hagenah returned to his home town of Chicago and took a position with a mid-sized firm where he worked on campaigns for Gatorade and Toyota.
Three years later, he moved on to a larger firm. “By then, I’d found my passion — the essence of advertising, the television commercial,” he says. He moved up to executive producer, spending three weeks of every month on the road shooting. After ten years, he transferred to Phoenix for a more family-friendly schedule, eventually leaving the firm to found his own business.
“I was really impressed with the entrepreneurial spirit in the west,” he says, “and creativity is very portable.” Now, after building his business, Hagenah notes, “I want to help others get started, and advertising is my area of expertise. The most important thing after you’ve been working a long time is that you want to give back, especially to your alma mater, the place that gave you a great start.”
His endowment will do just that, and is already benefiting the students of Studio 320. “It’s great to watch that team come together,” says Hagenah. “Nothing happens with an ‘I,’ it all happens with a ‘we.’”