Alum Jeffrey Durham Finds His Path at Mercer

5/16/08


During childhood it was not unusual to find Jeffrey Durham '84 (A.A.S., Visual Arts/ Advertising Design) doodling on pieces of paper or singing Campbell Soup commercials. "My mom had an inkling I was destined for advertising, but what did I know at the time?" Durham chuckled.

A graduate of Hopewell Valley High School, he first attended Villanova University to pursue a career in Engineering. When that proved not to be the right fit, he decided to revisit his childhood interest in drawing and commercials. According to Durham, enrolling at Mercer to study graphic design was the best decision he could have made. "From the day I walked into Mercer, I was absolutely hooked," said Durham, co-founder and president of Lang/Durham, a leading full-service strategic advertising, marketing and public relations firm located in Farmington, Conn. "My advertising instructor was phenomenal. She took an interest in me and my studies; she was very encouraging.

Front to back, Jeff Durham, president of the Durham Group, with Bill Greer, creative director,
and Eric Cavoli, director of strategic services.

 

"I went to Mercer on a leap of faith," he recalled. "I had an art portfolio in one hand and a tool box of art supplies in the other. The outstanding education I received fed my already overactive imagination and gave me a venue - it was a bit of a creative awakening, which led to further self-exploration."

Durham excelled at Mercer, receiving a Cybis scholarship, awarded to an outstanding advertising student. He continued his studies at the prestigious School of Visual Arts in New York City. Prior to graduating at age 20, he was named junior art director at D'Arcy, Masius, Benton & Bowles, a major advertising firm in the city, where he worked on promotional campaigns for such brands as Crest Toothpaste, MCI Communication and Burger King. Four years later, he was appointed senior art director at the now defunct Maher Advertising in Hartford, Conn.

With the goal of launching his own advertising enterprise, Durham and business partner Dean Lang established Lang/Durham in 1990. Under their leadership, the firm has created highly successful promotions, most notably in the energy-related and financial services fields. Clients have included the Governor of Connecticut's OneThing ™ energy, cost-savings, conservation campaign (www.onethingct.com) and a host of regional and national campaigns for The United Illuminating Company, PNC Bank, Liberty Bank, and Timex.

The creative team has also parlayed its artistic energies and marketing strategies toward making a difference in the human services arena, producing print, radio and TV promos for Sickle Cell through the state of Connecticut's Health and Human Service Department, and for Race for the Cure and the American Heart Association fundraisers.

Durham is also devoted to the mission of China Care Foundation, Inc., a non-profit organization that facilitates the adoption of Chinese orphans to families in the United States. As China Care's creative director, he leads the strategic design efforts to promote the major programs it provides, including surgical and health care social services for the children. He speaks at Harvard University annually at China Care leader recruitment symposiums.

Lang/Durham has recently undergone changes, with Durham appointing team members Eric Cavoli as creative director and Bill Greer as director of strategic services. Purchasing the agency from his original partner, the firm will be renamed The Durham Group.

Despite his busy schedule, Durham teaches advertising and marketing classes as an lecturer at the University of Hartford, University of Connecticut and Tunxis Community College. Teaching at Tunxis is particularly rewarding, Durham says, who enjoys working with the school's Dean of Marketing Nancy Grassilli. The feeling is mutual.

"Jeff is a man of integrity; he is extraordinarily creative," said Grassilli. "He knows how to thoroughly engage students as the case recently with his firm's OneThing campaign. The students were mesmerized by his presentation from the initial pitch to implementation. Jeff also provides internships for students and has served as an exhibitor at our college's networking receptions." Durham also serves on the Business Program Advisory Committee and handles the college's advertising accounts.

For Durham, community college provided the necessary turning point in his life. "It's where things began to click for me," he said. "At Mercer, I knew I had found my spot. The right chemistry was there."

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