By Hayley Hanks
Most advertising directors would probably stay in that job forever. Not Carl Jones, who left his post for grad school.
“Going back to further my studies and to build upon the practice and the knowledge I have from advertising has improved, I think, the way I do advertising,” said Jones.
A student in the Communication and Culture joint program between Ryerson and York Universities, Jones is researching Mexican advertising and how it is affected by power relationships in the political economy. He has been at Ryerson since 2013 and is hoping to finish his degree this coming September.
He currently lives in Toronto and is not only a student, but also currently a consultant for a Mexican advertising agency, while serving as assistant professor of art direction at OCAD University in Toronto.
“In the morning, I’m a professor and then in the afternoon, I’m a student. So, it helps me relate to the students in terms of getting messages across,” said Jones.
Being both a student and a teacher, Jones also tries to stay current with advertising trends. Through his consultancy work, he is able to do this while still studying and teaching.
“I think its important for me to still keep a foot in the practice and understand trends that are happening in advertising, and deal with real world advertising problems,” Jones said.
Jones’ research at Ryerson focuses on analyzing advertising campaigns in Mexico and their relationship with hierarchies of political power. This is something Jones is familiar with, as he spent 16 years working in the advertising business in Mexico City.
“[Mexico] was absolutely incredible for a number of things. One is that I got to learn and understand another culture; I got to learn another language. I also was allowed to do things, meet people, [and] create advertising that I would not have been able to do if I had stayed in Canada,” said Jones.
Jones found that in Canada his career was not able to advance quickly due to his age in the business. After a trip to Asia in 1992 opened up an opportunity to work in advertising abroad, he decided to go to Mexico.
“The reason I chose Mexico was because art direction, which is my practice, was not fully developed there, so I felt there was room to grow,” said Jones.
Jones returned to Canada in 2009 to work for an advertising company before pursuing his master’s degree at Ryerson.
The Communication and Culture program at Ryerson allows Jones to gain theoretical knowledge about communications and helps him apply it to his advertising background. This also works the other way; Jones is able to combine his knowledge in the advertising field with his research studies. Jones chose to go to Ryerson to study after he returned from Mexico and was working in Canada
“Ryerson is downtown. Ryerson, I think, is in the centre of where communication is happening in Canada…also the professors that are at Ryerson for graduate studies, I think, are excellent,” said Jones.
Jones hopes his research can help him understand advertising’s place in the world of communication and how to use it to depict advertising realities accurately.
“When you’re in advertising, you don’t really think about the consequences. And I was really interested in the consequences that advertising messages have on society,” said Jones.
Jones had experienced that sometimes, advertisements were not accurately representing the population of where he was working.
“Because I’ve worked in advertising for so long [in Mexico], I know the words that [advertisers] use. I’ve experienced casting when they have told me specifically to pick people who are more Caucasian…I prefer to show what the population is, but they don’t do that. I just wanted to do an actual study of that, because no one’s done that before,” said Jones.
Jones’ experience in the advertising world and his research on how politics and advertising interrelate allow him to make connections and further his understanding of the two disciplines.
“Now that I’ve studied communication and culture, I’ve been introduced to theory. It really has opened up my eyes to where advertising fits into communication, and also just how communication affects race, gender and class,” said Jones.
Jones has been researching advertising opportunities to pursue after he has finished his time at Ryerson.
“I’m very global, and so my eye is not on Canada but the world. And I always look for trends and what’s happening in other countries. So even when I’m in Mexico, I’m not looking at Mexico, I’m looking outside of Mexico,” said Jones.
Dissertations is an ongoing series taking a look at graduate students on Ryerson’s campus. One story will be posted each Saturday.