by Ashley Bovin
During a family trip to New York City when he was in the 3rd grade, Jacob Cochran told his family that one day, he wanted to live there.
After graduating from the GVSU Advertising and Public Relations program in 2015, Cochran started out working at a marketing agency in Grand Rapids. It didn’t take long for him to set his sights on New York.
While looking for opportunities in his dream city, Cochran came across Carrot Creative, a digital advertising agency. It seemed like a perfect fit because it was owned by VICE Media – a company he had been interested in – and it specialized in the digital space.
After a couple rounds of interviews and a presentation, Cochran was hired by Carrot Creative to work on the Chipotle account. The team created all of Chipotle’s digital and social media content. Cochran was a part of campaigns like the national launch of chorizo (a new menu item), which involved creative elements like Snapchat geofilters and lenses, as well as media buying. Cochran said that while working at Carrot was a great experience, he wanted to work on something other than fast casual dining.
“I also wanted to see what a large, more traditional New York City ad agency was like,” he said.
Grey Group is a much larger, global agency based in NYC that has been around since 1917. Grey works with some big names, such as Canon and Volvo.
“They also continuously win the award of ‘Agency of the Year,’ so for me, Grey was a place where I wanted to be,” Cochran said.
Cochran landed an account executive role with Grey on the UPMC account. Cochran said he finds the work for UPMC, a medical center and hospital group, more rewarding than what he was doing for Chipotle.
“My old account director at Carrot used to say, ‘This isn’t a matter of life and death’ when something didn’t go the way we planned, whereas working on UPMC, it kind of is,” he said.
Cochran also enjoys working at Grey because their clients trust them and give a lot of room to play when it comes to developing campaigns.
“Overall, I’m just really excited to be working on an account that really makes a difference in the world,” he said.
Cochran credits the internships he had while a student at GVSU for creating a good foundation for his career.
“I’ve had numerous agencies and coworkers comment on how diverse my background is,” he said. “I had an internship every year I was at GVSU, in politics, fashion, and branding, and I’ve had nothing but positive reactions from professionals within the industry about how interesting and unique my professional background is when it comes to advertising and PR.”
Cochran also appreciated the diversity of the faculty in GVSU’s APR program.
“I think it’s important to have a good mix of professionals who can give you a better understanding of the industry,” he said. “John Stipe was great; his teaching style looked at the industry through a more traditional lens. Professors like Adrienne Wallace have a more current view of the industry. It’s the unique mix of professors at GVSU that really help you gain a better understanding of the advertising and PR world.”
Cochran also had some advice to share with current students.
“Think big,” he advises. “I know classes can be stressful and projects are overwhelming when you have 10 at a time, but while you’re in university, use this as a time to think bigger about what impact you want to make on not only your career, but the industry as a whole. While you’re in school, use that time to get a better understanding of where you want to end up within the years following graduation.”
It worked out for Cochran.
“I wanted to work at a digital ad agency in NYC, and I made it happen,” he said.