As part of The China Experience theme, MSU’s Department of Advertising + Public Relations is partnering with The One Club to host a similar contest on Michigan State’s campus in early fall 2015 and is bringing the Gold Pencil-winning team from the Beijing competition to compete here.
“We’re going to do exactly the same thing that The One Club does there, except our competition is going to be a lot smaller,” said Henry Brimmer, Assistant Professor of Advertising, who is leading the effort. “They have 48 teams. I’m hoping to have six teams.”
The WPP School of Marketing and Communications in Shanghai and Shanghai Normal University also are planning to send teams to the MSU competition, accompanied by deans Harrison Doug and Dinghai Jin, respectively.
MSU’s Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives awarded Brimmer a $45,000 grant, which will pay for the Gold Pencil team to travel here as well as other China Experience initiatives.
The One Club is the world’s foremost nonprofit organization devoted to elevating creative work in the advertising industry. It champions and promotes excellence in advertising and design in all its forms.
The Department of Advertising + Public Relations received an exclusive invitation to send a team of students to participate in the highly competitive One Club China Youth Creative Festival in Beijing, China, in November 2014. The competition’s only non-Chinese participants, the students brought home the coveted Silver Pencil award.
“Every one of those kids will tell you they never worked so hard in their life, and they were phenomenal. I couldn’t be prouder,” said Henry Brimmer, Assistant Professor of Advertising, who led the trip.
About 5,000 students from advertising programs throughout China sent their best work to be juried by One Club officers, and of those, only about 300 were selected to compete at the festival. When Brimmer was invited to take a student team, he jumped at the chance.
“I was on it in two minutes,” he said. “I thought, ‘you cannot let this opportunity go,’ and Jef Richards (Chair of the Department of Advertising + Public Relations) was so supportive.”
Six MSU students competed at the festival including advertising majors Henrik Blix, Victor Marmorstein, Andriana Tonis, Jacob Yu and Maggie Zhang and studio art major Taylor Parker. Yu and Zhang, who are international students from China and officers in MSU’s Chinese Undergraduate Student Association (CUSA), also served as translators.
The students were split into two teams with both teams consisting of three MSU students and four Chinese students. The teams also worked with professional mentors from China and around the world.
At the beginning of the six-day competition, each team was assigned a problem to tackle by one of the main sponsors, with both MSU teams receiving the Microsoft brief that asked them to get 13-25 year olds interested in Microsoft.
The teams worked around the clock on commercials, print ads, video, social media contests and even ideas for a concert.
“I’ve never pulled an all-nighter before, but on this trip we pulled two in a row. We calculated within a 65-hour period we had slept three hours,” Tonis said. “The amazing part was that I wasn’t even tired.”
One added stress was the language barrier; so having Zhang and Yu there to translate proved indispensable. Also traveling with the group were media and information major Izak Gracy and journalism major Andrea Raby, who stayed with the teams the entire time, even into the wee hours of the morning, and documented the entire trip.
“We didn’t see much of Beijing outside a three-block radius, but that’s OK because that is not what we were there for,” Raby said.
Being the only non-Chinese participants in the competition was a unique experience.
“The first two days, there were tons of people taking pictures of us. I felt kind of famous,” Tonis said. “But when the competition started, no one really paid any attention to us – we were all there to compete.”
The contest started with 48 teams with each team working on the briefs for four full days before 24 teams were selected to advance to final presentations, including both MSU teams.
“The fact that both teams advanced and then one team won the Silver Pencil, that’s phenomenal and exceeds any expectations,” Brimmer said.
The team that won the Silver Pencil included Marmorstein, Parker and Yu with Gracy following their every move.
“When they read our names for winning the Silver Pencil, I was in awe and so happy for our team,” Parker said. “We worked so hard and had a quality campaign and execution. I am very proud to bring home a Silver Pencil.”
The students came away from the trip with a broader international perspective, having made friends, learning more about themselves, and with the knowledge and experience that can be gained only from international travel and intense competition.
“If you would have told me my freshman year that I would be going to China as a senior, I would not have believed you,” Raby said. “Sending the students to this competition in China, that alone speaks volumes to the opportunities that MSU offers.”
Michigan State University turns its eyes to China as the 18-month, university-wide initiative, “The China Experience: An MSU Exploration of Arts and Culture,” kicks off this month. As part of this theme, several events will be held across campus and in the surrounding community that focus on the arts and culture in Greater China.
Some of the ComArtSci events include:
“Seeing China: Photographic Views and Viewpoints” exhibition at the MSU Museum, co-curated by Howard Bossen, Professor of Photography and Visual Communication in the School of Journalism and Adjunct Curator of Photography at the MSU Museum. The exhibit is now on display through Aug. 30, 2015, and is one of the “signature” events that will launch The China Experience.
The Visiting Advertising Professional (VAP) series, ADV 413, is offering a one-credit workshop March 2-5 focusing on the booming Chinese advertising industry. The workshop will be taught by Kevin Swanepoel, President of The One Club, and Ma Chao, Greater China Representative of The One Club.
Award-winning advertising work by Chinese students and professionals will be displayed throughout the first floor hallways of the Communication Arts and Sciences Building beginning in March.