SF Bay Area

A Mission to Engage

The ADV M.F.A. graduate has found her niche engaging audiences and utilizing her creativity through social media campaigns

By Nina Tabios

Behind every witty Tweet, enticing Instagram photo or memorable brand campaign is an Alexandra Dacks; a social media guru whose mission is to engage and create content to incite instant FOMO (fear of missing out).

“I like to think I get to work on the fun part,” said the Academy of Art University alumna, current instructor, and StubHub social media manager. After graduating from the School of Advertising (ADV) M.F.A. program in 2014, Dacks said she “ended up in social media on accident,” while working in an ad agency. Though her focus was in copywriting, she quickly discovered social media was basically copywriting, art direction, and strategy wrapped into one. “It’s kind of all-encompassing. We’re figuring out how we can connect with people around live events,” she explained.

Recently, Dacks and the StubHub studio team produced the marketing activation for StubHub’s ATL Tailgate party for Super Bowl LIII. The event itself combined a StubHub box office (Super Bowl ticket holders picked up their hard copies here before the game) with a super-sized parking lot party held at State Farm Arena complete with themed food and drink, games, face painting, and a merchandise booth, plus a meet-and-greet and football toss with former NFL players.

From a social perspective, the strategy was to construct a narrative around not just the Super Bowl, but also Atlanta as a destination and its combined culture of sports and music.

“We built this story of StubHub experiencing Atlanta throughout Super Bowl weekend,” Dacks explained. She and the studio team went down south to film content around local hotspots, such as College Football Hall of Fame, rapper Killer Mike’s barbershop, hip-hop oriented neighborhood, Little Five Points, and a baseball-themed coffee shop. “We combined that with content from Super Bowl Music Festival and Super Bowl City. We really wanted the story to trail into our tailgate.”

As a music and sports fan, Dacks said StubHub couldn’t be a more perfect place to work. Prior to getting hired as the ticketing company’s in-house strategist in 2017, Dacks worked for media company Muh-Tay-Zik / Hof-Fer where she was recognized as part of the teams that won gold at the 2016 The One Show (Netflix of Study for Best Branded Social Post) and nominated for a 2017 Webby (Audi: 24 Hours of Le Forza). Jumping from an agency to in-house meant Dacks could see how impactful social media can be.

“I wanted to be more boots on the ground,” she said. “I wanted to understand how what I’m doing is laddering up to the bigger business objectives, so in-house was kind of the way to go.”

Although it feels like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have taken over much of today’s interactions and communications, social media from an advertising perspective is still very new.

According to ADV Co-Director Andrea Pimentel, advertising isn’t just about television or radio anymore and many working advertisers are still figuring out social media. Bringing in a real pro like Dacks to pass on her social media savvy was necessary as students have become increasingly interested in social media as a long-term career or as a foot in the door.

“Social media was something we identified that we needed to bring in somebody that knew what they were talking about,” said Pimentel, who hired Dacks in 2016. “She’s updated and modernized how we talk about social media and the internet, in general. With social media, there aren’t really any rules to it. Creativity wins and understanding how an audience works wins; it’s about connecting with people.”

“Social media is storytelling and, [as advertisers], you’re trying to engage people,” said ADV Associate Director Mark Edwards. “She was really good at understanding different audiences—people who aren’t like her necessarily—and being able to find ways to communicate to them in methods that seemed fresh and exciting.”

Currently, Dacks is teaching Interactive Advertising (ADV 625) and a directed studies graduate course, Social Media in Advertising for the Spring 2019 semester, which covers the nuts and bolts of strategy, content creation, and analytics. But what she really hopes to ingrain in her students is a sense of curiosity; to see socials beyond memes and emoji-speak and view them as a genuine avenue of communication and storytelling.

“I once heard somebody say that if you only know about advertising, you’re going to be terrible at advertising,” Dacks said. “And I think that one of the things that I try to instill in my students is to take this time while you have it, to go out and explore, learn about people, learn about culture because that’s what’s going to help you in your career.”

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