Surviving in advertising

I recently went to the MIAD (Milwaukee Institute Art and Design) Senior Thesis Exhibit to look at and analyze the work of communications design majors – some who will be the ad community’s future Art Directors.

Immediately, I was drawn to three students’ work. Perhaps it’s because their topics interest me, or perhaps it’s because they get it. They understand how to capture attention and keep someone interested.

The three students: Eric White, Kelly Gest and Chase Baker (and yes, these are in a specific order).

First is Eric White. His was one of the last displays that I saw, but one of the most powerful. His campaign was called “The Brighter Side,” and it focused on current lifestyles – more specifically, media consumption. Three main pillars were on display, each with the headline “8 hours of our day are wasted on media consumption.” The pillars are filled with facts about consuming TV media, social media and video games.

"The Brighter Side" fortune teller

Eric understands AIDA. Attention & interest are gained by some shocking facts, desire is created by showing the negatives of media consumption and the way that it can disconnect humans, and a call to action is seen in the rest of the campaign (quite literally). The campaign is to motivate people to “Go somewhere, See somebody, and Do something.” On the back and brighter sides of the pillars (more light), are images of lively outdoor activities. Along the walls are suggestions for a variety of activities as simple as “play a board game” or as complex as “host a reunion.” Each activity is given an estimated amount of hours, to increase the desire to reduce media consumption and spend more time on these activities. Finally, paper fortune tellers are present, with the outside having pictures of media consumption, and the inside being a bright yellow and full of activity suggestions.

Overall, I loved this campaign. I think it’s extremely strong and on strategy. I later found out that Eric is in graphic design and copywriting. Fitting. He’s a young Creative Director in the making.

Kelly Gest is my next favorite. Her display is not exactly advertising, but I believe it still shows her understanding of strategy. Her display was “La Comida Viaggio” which is for a cultural cookbook. She had an educational focus centered on the mix of food and culture, and she kept this narrow focus very clear on every page. For each country in her book – Spain, France and Italy – she begins the recipes with a spread titled “food and culture.” This spread gives a history and some education on the connection of food and culture in that country. Furthermore, on each page, the reader will find educational facts related to the featured recipe. Her idea was very tight and she followed her strategy to a T. That’s certainly important for anyone in advertising.

Next, I was drawn to Chase Baker. His thesis was for, focusing on consent in relationships. Without even checking, I knew right away that he was in communications design. His pieces looked just like advertisements (beautiful ones, I might add), with headlines, subheads, copy and a logo. Each of his four pieces had a consistent look and feel which is important for any ad campaign. Though I believe his ads effectively caught my attention and interest, I can tell that Chase is not a copywriter. His copy was long and wordy and could use some extra attention. His call to action is also lacking, and his headlines could use some extra umph. I suppose the fact that Chase is focused on graphic design and art direction would be the explanation. I can certainly see Chase being an Art Director, and if paired with a good copywriter, I he should have success in his career.

These three students have huge potential. I can see it in their design and conceptual thinking. They know how to survive in the ad world.


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