Advertising for a living, Teaching for a meaning
When asked what I do for a living, I like to say that I sell yoghurts and hamburgers, as a practical shorthand for saying that I’m an advertiser, as at the end of the day this all boils down to this. But what I also like to say is that even though I spend much of my time being an advertiser, I like to be defined by something that takes less of my time and nonetheless says much more about who I am: a teacher.
I’ve been teaching for more than 10 years, as an associate teacher at the Sorbonne’s Celsa School of Communications at the beginning, and now as a junior lecturer at the American University of Paris since 2018 and at Sciences Po Parissince 2014. I’ve been teaching because I have had great professors in my time, knowing how life-changing the right encounters can be, because beyond selling yoghurts and hamburgers my job is also about knowing how individuals behave, feel, interact, talk, share, create commons in novel ways. I’ve been teaching at the intersections of social sciences, marketing, advertising, communications and digital technologies to shed some light on the broad mechanisms at play below and behind our public space, our mass media, our social spaces and networks, our urge to project ourselves onto the world and to relate to others, our algorithms.
I know I will keep teaching, I know I will teach more and more because it keeps me exploring and trying to make sense of our (digital) world. But I know I will never stop teaching because of the responsibility and the impact I am privileged to have, because of the tokens of recognition that mean so much to me, such as the one that one of my students at the American University of Paris recently sent me on behalf of groups of students I had had in class for some, and I had received at my advertising agency, TBWA, for others.
Our email exchange is republished with permission from said student, as a token of encouragement to anyone who feels like taking up the mantle of their own professors, as the undeniable proof that this is worth the effort.
The Kind Words From Students
Dear Mr. Hamelle,
It is with great pleasure that we would like to say thank you for setting aside the time to accommodate our entire Brands and Beliefs class at TBWA in September. Your presentation was in many ways fascinating, educational, and thought-provoking. Please know that it has planted seeds of inspiration in many of our heads. We know there were many other things you could have been doing, and yet the time you set aside to impart your knowledge and experience to us was invaluable. Again, we would like to say thank you for visiting with us.
The Graduate Students in Brands and Beliefs at AUP
My Sincere Reply
I should say that I am moved by such kind words. Indeed I take great joy in knowing that the time I have spent with you and the AUP students is valued, and that the modest ideas I share seed new ideas and ambitions. Please convey my warmest feeling to everyone.
The Even Kinder Words
I should also say thank you for responding, I appreciate your kind words and am sure my class will as well. I will lastly say that what you might call modest ideas, combined with the module you recently taught has been among the most fascinating lessons I have learned thus far at AUP – and I do not say those words lightly. I can say with honesty that you have opened up new doors of career potential for the future.