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College of Information and Communications



Campaigns, connections, and possibly the best sleep these volunteers have ever had.

Ahh, the joys of autumn. Pumpkin spice lattes, cooler temperatures and football. They’ve got nothing on the excitement of CreateAthon@USC. Every fall, students and mentors deprive themselves of sleep, and perhaps even a shred of sanity, developing advertising and marketing communications for good causes in just 24 intense hours.

It’s an all-volunteer, pro bono effort that benefits everyone involved: advancing the causes of deserving nonprofits, ramping up student skills, and bringing  professional mentors and students together in an experience that is intense, challenging, rewarding — and fun.

When the 24 hours have come to a close and eyes are still open (barely), volunteers pitch their campaigns directly to the nonprofits, who leave CreateAthon with killer concepts for their organizations. Without fail, they’re shocked and awed by the magic that their volunteer teams have created, as well as the quantity and quality of work produced. See the Showcase. You’ll see why.

Of course, 24 hours isn’t enough time to create an entire campaign from start to finish. Several advertising classes, taught by Karen Mallia and Ernie Griggs, do the advance work with selected nonprofits — including research, needs assessments and development of a creative strategy for each brand. They also work on promotional efforts on behalf of CreateAthon@USC, recruiting student and professional volunteers and building buzz.

They’re not the only ones. Dr. Haylee Mercado and her fall class in Sport and Entertainment Management work to provide food and activities like live music, contests, and games to keep volunteers going and creative juices flowing throughout the night. They also assist with security and safety for the event.

Volunteers walk into CreateAthon@USC with a positive attitude and an open mind, and leave with a portfolio builder, a resumé booster, real world experience and a possible caffeine overdose — to say nothing of that warm-and-fuzzy-feeling that comes from doing genuine good for others.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.