Editor's note: Sela Betz and Ava Holle are Collegian staff members. 

This semester marks the beginning of Spider Advertising, a student-run advertising agency and a chapter of the American Advertising Federation.

The new club was formed by senior Sela Betz, who got the idea while interning for The Integer Group in New York City this summer. Betz realized that she really had no idea how the agency side of advertising worked until she was thrown into it. 

After talking to a colleague about starting an AAF chapter at the University of Richmond to help other students better understand the world of advertising, Betz emailed students and professors about the idea. Eventually, it evolved into the concept of not just a club but a legitimate advertising agency run by UR students, she said.

“It basically goes a step further than just being an AAF chapter, because we’ll have real client work and projects for students to gain that real-world experience,” Betz said. 

Along with real advertising work exposure, members also have access to the AAF’s extensive network, which excites students like senior Luke Garrison, Spider Advertising’s chief human resources officer. 

Garrison said he was excited that this network AAF provided could potentially help him with job searches.

Additionally, each month the agency will hold hands-on workshops that will expose members to different aspects of advertising, such as how to use resources like Statista, an online portal for statistics, Betz said.

Clients will provide compensation to the agency in the form of donations around $500 to $1,200, Betz said, which will ultimately save businesses thousands of dollars because of how expensive professional advertising agencies can be.

The process to have the agency officially recognized by UR went slower than Betz would have liked, especially with networking opportunities for members approaching, she said. 

But co-faculty advisers professors Bill Bergman and Jeffrey Carlson suggested that Betz and sophomore Ava Holle, chief operating officer of the club, present the idea to the dean of the E. Claiborne Robins School of Business, Miguel Quiñones.

"At the presentation, what struck me was that it was a grassroots effort," Quiñones said. "The students who had a common interest, who were really excited and passionate about a field or cared enough about it to learn, put together a presentation to convince the dean that this is something they wanted to do."

Quiñones said he had offered the agency start-up funds so the club could get going as soon as possible, in order for members to be able to attend an upcoming AAF conference. Betz and the rest of the executive team immediately got to work and put together the first interest meeting on Oct. 8, Betz said.

Betz said it had been amazing to see people from so many different organizations and majors at the interest meeting. 

“Advertising gains insight from so many types of thinking, and I think that’s a cool way for students to actually interact with one another,” said Betz. "That’s exactly how the real world’s going to operate because it’s going to be people from so many different backgrounds than you, and I think that’s a really cool benefit of this organization.”

Senior Lexi Lozo is excited at the prospect of joining a real advertising agency.

“I’m excited to join Spider Advertising to gain real-world work experience and explore the possible opportunities there are in advertising,” Lozo said.

On Oct. 9, Betz found out that Spider Advertising had become a school-recognized club. 

“If that’s all I do for this organization, then that’s great for me,” Betz said. “Now I can graduate.”

Contact news writer Maeve McCormick at maeve.mccormick@richmond.edu.