From motors to mouse ears: Alumna crafts advertising expertise

Pictured is WMU alumna Janelle Tischer standing outside smiling

“WMU allowed me to realize the type of leader I would become,” says Haworth College of Business graduate Janelle Tischer, B.B.A.’00. Tischer has dominated the fast-paced advertising industry by working with blue chip brands such as Cadillac, Chevrolet, Sprint and now  Disney. Her most recent accolade was being named the 115th president of Adcraft Detroit, the oldest nonprofit advertising association in the country.

Graduating with a B.B.A. in marketing with a political science minor, this Business Bronco speaks highly of her time at WMU. She especially remembers a capstone marketing class in which she first discovered her love for automotive marketing and media planning and strategy. The course allowed her to connect with a local automotive dealership, where she worked to provide media and promotional plans alongside her classmates. Not only did this class lead to a career path for her, but it’s also where she gained many of her lifelong friends and colleagues. 

Tischer’s expertise in media strategy led her to become vice president, category strategy, for one of the biggest companies in the world, Disney. “As a strategist for Disney, I build media and advertising partnerships for automotive, travel and diversified consumer services clients throughout the country,” she says. “I help answer why it makes strategic sense for brands to consider Disney advertising sales through actionable insights and how we can help drive their business forward.”

Since WMU gave her endless opportunities to excel during her college and professional career, Tischer has taken it upon herself to do the same for junior colleagues and students from various universities. The proud Bronco brings her skills back to her alma mater as she builds an Adcraft Mentorship Program for students in collaboration with faculty from the Department of Marketing. She hopes to aid students in professional decision making and career development like her mentors did for her. “This program allows Adcraft mentors to share their talents and expertise with WMU students to help them prepare for, locate and secure employment within the marketing, advertising and communications world,” Tischer says.

As a mentor herself, Tischer has many valuable lessons to share from the constantly evolving advertising industry. The past few years have shown her how to tackle some unexpected challenges, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. She has encountered obstacles that have allowed her to understand consumer behavior on another level. “The pandemic has had a lasting impact on consumer behavior and significantly affected media consumption and buying behavior,” she says. “There is very much a shift to personalized experiences accelerated by the pandemic with data at the core for both consumers and brands.”

While consumers are more demanding than ever, Tischer sees that as a chance to persistently push to reach the right audience with the right message at the right time. “Anyone looking to get into the advertising field needs to be comfortable with the uncomfortable, push themselves and always be curious because it’s an industry that is constantly evolving.”

Tischer continues to evolve too, not only as a leader in the advertising industry, but in philanthropic organizations as well. Notable roles include her executive chair position for the American Cancer Society’s Night of Discovery and chair position for Blessings in a Backpack Avondale. She also maintains strong ties with Kalamazoo, serving on the Advertising and Promotion Advisory Board for WMU. “We make a living by what we get, but a life by what we give,” she says. “Find what matters most to you and get involved as you can make a difference.”

As Walt Disney said, “All our dreams come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” Janelle Tischer has demonstrated exactly what it means to put in the work and achieve even the most ambitious goals. It has been a rewarding experience for her as she succeeds in the advertising industry. “As a storyteller by trade, it’s been an honor to be able to craft meaningful stories that have connected deeply with people and to be recognized for that work.”