Michelle McIntosh (Journalism, ’10), is an account executive at Mering Carson ad agency, where she helps manage day-to-day activity and client contact. With a prominent role in two major campaigns for the state—Visit California and CA Grown—McIntosh, who lives in San Diego, sat down with us during a local alumni event to chat about her Chico State experience and how it’s equipped her in her current career.

When did you first get interested in the world of advertising, marketing, and PR?

I had a couple of internships throughout college, and that experience guided me into PR. I got the opportunity to work for an advertising agency, and at first, I didn’t really know what the gist of it was.

Originally, I was really interested in energy, so during my internship in college, I had the opportunity to work for an advertising agency that worked with different energy utilities across the nation. I learned a lot about refrigerator recycling, which I never thought I’d know anything about, and now I know way too much about. … Now, I’m fully in advertising, so the experiences I had at Chico helped guide me to this place.

“The experiences I had at Chico helped guide me to this place.” – Michelle McIntosh

In a world inundated with ads—and how to ignore them—how do you stand out?

It’s an interesting question. We do have a lot of research here, so we know how the consumer acts and how to get a hold of them. We know where they are, how to target them in their environments so we can help guide their reaction. We communicate with different content to engage them, to get them to come to the state. “From farm to fan” is what we like to communicate for CA Grown. It’s the love of agriculture, the different commodities we have here. Telling those stories helps engage the consumer. For the average consumer, they might not care where their tomato came from, but a lot of consumers in the state are very conscious about that.

What do you find special about promoting your home state?

One of the things I love about promoting the Golden State is that I get to work on Visit California and CA Grown. I’m born and raised here, so I’m fully into supporting the tourism movement and getting people to pick that California avocado instead of the one from Mexico. We have a bounty of agriculture here, so it’s awesome to get that message out.

What do you think is the best, most iconic ad, and why?

[Laughing] Just because I’m a puppy lover, I loved when Bud Light had the golden retriever puppy walking around the farm. It doesn’t inspire me to drink Bud Light, but they really got to me with that puppy!

What excites you about advertising?

The best time of the year is the Super Bowl season—everyone loves football, but I love the advertising space around it. In advertising, our “Super Bowl” is the actual Super Bowl, when we get to see ads come out. That’s where we really pay attention. It’s amazing to see what people put together, and you see different movements in the culture coming through those ads.