Wednesday, February 1st, 2017
What do Twitter, Lego figurines and advertising all have in common? For the average person, not much. For advertising professor Ross Chowles, it represents something larger.
Chowles is in his second semester teaching at MSU. He grew up in South Africa where he was one of the founding partners of the successful advertising agency, The Jupiter Drawing Room Cape Town.
He recently started an out-of-the-box social media experiment with his portfolio preparation class (ADV 450). Chowles gave each student a Lego figurine where they had to act as that character and create a tone of voice via Twitter.
Creative advertising major and graphic design minor Travis Root grew up watching the movie ‘Nacho Libre,’ and decided to base his Lego character off of the movie.
Root’s character was an over-the-top wrestler. With no background in Spanish, Root decided to write all of his character’s Tweets in Spanish to really get into the tone of his character.
“I was excited about the opportunity to use jokes and memes from the ‘Nacho Libre’ movie,” Root said. “For authenticity sake I decided to do the whole thing in Spanish so I had to use Google translate and occasionally Bing translate.”
The senior said his future will hopefully include working with people to collaborate and be creative.
“He (Chowles) is really supportive in creative stuff,” Root said. “Ross has really great ideas and he is always willing to make you think about things in new ways but he’s not so binary about the whole thing. All of the assignments are based to benefit our portfolio and he just wants to help us make a really solid portfolio.”
Senior in creative advertising Alex Grajewski took on the role as a bodybuilder Lego. According to Grajewski, Chowles gave him this character to represent Grajewski’s own workout routine.
“I think I am going to continue it (his character) after because my friends don’t know it’s me, so I have been following some of my friends and I have been Tweeting at them so they will tell me to look on Twitter about this Lego person,” Grajewski joked.
Grajewski said he would like to check out Seattle or the San Francisco area after graduating from MSU. He said he relies on this class to help him build his portfolio.
“I would like to be an art director,” Grajewski said. “I want to get really into doing ad campaigns and stay away from doing the sales. I want to make something people are going to remember.”
Jamie Miller is a creative advertising major who took on the role of an ‘80s gym bunny Lego for her project in the class.
“He (Chowles) has come up with more unique projects than I have seen,” Miller said. “He wanted us to completely embody these characters and do our own thing with it. I wasn’t born in the ‘80s, I was on my computer looking up terms from the ‘80s and stuff.”
Miller said she has been interested in advertising ever since she was young. Miller said she remembered times where she would be watching TV and ads would stand out to her.
“When I would watch TV advertisements they weren’t boring to me and I would notice the good ones,” Miller said. “I like being more on the creative side, you can have that creative thinking and apply that to something practical.”
The senior said she is moving to Boston after graduation and is looking to work with an advertising agency. Until then she said working with Chowles has helped prepare her for life outside of MSU.
“It was a very interesting way of looking at tone and promoting an image,” Miller said. “We started this whole community and we started getting random people following us. It just shows how much social media can spread so quickly.”
With social media being one of the new trends for brands to communicate, Chowles said advertising agencies look for students with an understanding in using social media as a platform for brand conversations.
“In my mind the idea is that at the end of the course they are leaving with a professional portfolio that will go and get them a job at a better agency,” Chowles said. “So you have to fill it with things that agencies say ‘Ok, we do that. We need that.’”
“Clients are excited about this medium and all its possibilities but also you can’t control what consumers say,” Chowles said. “Traditional marketing you can control because you make a TV ad and you put it out but social media people talk and answer back. Our job is to start this conversation.
The Twitter experiment is still up and running. Students have been posting new Tweets every week.
“From what I have seen the students don’t get taught enough of it,” Chowles said. “They may get taught social media as a theory but not enough as a creative application. Good use of social media is to spark a conversation and I wanted my students to get into that headspace of having a conversation.”
“I want them to understand brand personality online because most brands when they speak it is boring and humanless stuff,” Chowles said. “Social media is the absolute opposite. We seek out stuff that is funny, charming and interesting.”
Tuesday, January 24th, 2017
Media and Information’s Elizabeth LaPensée and Jon Whiting paired up to create two new games called “Manoominike” and “Mikan” for the Duluth Children’s Museum in Minnesota. With the help of the museum and a committee of Anishinaabe community members, these games pinpoint specific teachings about the practice of ricing in Anishinaabemowin (Anishinaabe language). These games launched at the free Manoomin Exhibit Opening in Duluth on Friday, Jan. 13, 2017.
“I’m blown away by seeing the Manoomin exhibit at the Duluth Children’s Museum, which will be up for several years complete, with the games Manoominike and Mikan in wiigiwaam,” said LaPensée.
With assistants of the committee and contributions from Ojibwemowning Digital Arts Studio, this collaboration involved design and art by Elizabeth LaPensée, programming by Tyler Coleman, and sound by Jon Whiting. The game, Manoominike (meaning “wild rice”) in Anishinaabemowin, gives users a motion-controlled experience that is surrounded by elements and imagery of modern ricing in a fabricated wigwam, a real-life look and feel. The second game called Mikan (meaning “find it”) is a mobile game that intends to pass on phrases about ricing in Anishinaabemowin such as jiimaan (meaning “canoe”).
“The greatest challenge of all involved creating games that could be played in short experiences in a museum, while honoring the vastness of the ricing tradition,” said LaPensée.
The Manoomin exhibit and the Manoominike and Mikan games were made possible through support from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Legacy Fund and the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation’s Anishinaabe Fund.
“I’m grateful for input from the committee as well as community members who see what I hope to pass on through these games –the importance of ricing and sustainable harvesting practices directed at youth, the next generations, who will continue these teachings,” said LaPensée.
By Emmy Virkus
Monday, January 23rd, 2017
As the editor of her high school yearbook during her senior year, advertising senior Sarah Goodyear knew she wanted to continue her passion for visual art.
“I really enjoy designing, but designing for a purpose,” Goodyear said. “I think it’s awesome to be able to give a company or organization a voice. Each place I’ve worked for has had their own style. That’s really exciting to me.”
Goodyear is currently using her minor in graphic design as an intern in the Office for International Students and Scholars (OISS) at Michigan State University. She has been creating graphics for OISS since May 2016. She designs flyers, event posters and social media graphics for any event or internal messaging that needs a visual component.
“When I am first given the content for the graphic I am supposed to create, I look over the content and decide what is the most important piece of information to highlight,” Goodyear said. “I decide how to lay out the information on the page, starting with the text. Sometimes I even draw it out. I love it, because I pretty much have complete creative freedom, as long as I make sure I am sticking with the brand standards for MSU and OISS.”
Her favorite part of this internship is working with the people in the office.
“It’s been so much fun learning about different cultures,” Goodyear said. “I never would have seen myself working with so many different people with different backgrounds, so it’s definitely been one of my favorite places to work.”
Goodyear said she collaborates with other staff members and students on a daily basis and that she is fortunate to work on campus.
“Working for an MSU department is awesome,” Goodyear said. “I feel like a part of the university as a whole.”
Goodyear said that her coworkers and different experiences she has encountered in the office helped prepare her for a trip to Shanghai, China in November. She was part of a group of students from the Department of Advertising + PR that competed in the annual One Show Greater China Festival.
“My supervisor, Skyin, is from China, so she was giving me a lot of helpful information,” Goodyear said. “So many other people in the office already having that international experience made it a lot easier of a transition once I got over there.”
She also participated in the Minds (Wide) Open competition at MSU in September and her team received second place for their creative campaign ideas.
Minds (Wide) Open has a concept similar to the competition in China, but on a smaller scale. Goodyear was on a team with one other American and five Chinese students and, together, they created a fully-integrated ad campaign for their client.
There were 80 students from various parts of the world that came to MSU for Minds (Wide) Open. After Goodyear’s experience at the One Show Greater China Festival in Shanghai, she better understood the barriers that one has to overcome when developing and designing a campaign in a foreign country.
“It was a great experience, but pretty challenging,” Goodyear said. “The whole competition was in Chinese, so there was a language barrier. The students were great and we had translators, which was helpful, but it made it harder to work on the brief. Both competitions were incredible experiences.”
The client in China was Snickers and they had to develop a campaign around the popular Chinese app, QQ. Goodyear said it was most difficult to come up with ideas for QQ, since their team had just been introduced to the app.
Goodyear also designs for The Red Cedar Log, MSU’s yearbook. The photographers and writers send her photos and content and then she designs the pages.
“It’s really fun reading all of the stories in the yearbook,” Goodyear said. “There are some really awesome student groups that I have never heard of before.”
After graduation in May 2017, Goodyear would like to end up at an agency where she can use creative freedom and express her ideas.
“I am super thankful for MSU and my classes here,” Goodyear said. “If I went to a different school, I don’t think I would have had the same opportunities.”
By Meg Dedyne
Friday, January 13th, 2017
Many people dream of turning their passions into a career. For Geoff Johns, his love of comic books and their iconic characters – Superman, Batman, The Flash and Green Lantern – was all the fuel he needed to pursue a career in media and entertainment.
In 2016, Johns hit superhero status at DC Entertainment when he was promoted to president and chief creative officer of the company. Johns is now leading a new era for the DC Universe, revamping the stories of his favorite childhood superheroes – including Wonder Woman, who will be at the center of the first female-powered superhero movie, set to release in summer 2017.
Becoming Geoff Johns
Johns graduated from Michigan State University in 1995 and studied media arts, screenwriting, film production and film theory. As a student, he took advantage of the unique opportunities at MSU, from film club to physics classes.
“I’ll set aside the fact that it’s a beautiful campus, that the culture is amazing, that it has the biggest comic book collection in the world, which is awesome,” Johns told us, while reflecting on his time at MSU. “But, the thing that was so valuable to me is that you find that whatever you’re interested in, they have something for it.”
Johns was drawn to classes in film and media production, and crashed MSU’s library of comic books, as he worked to develop a better knowledge of film, screenplays and characters. He also found value in the basics like economics and physics, ultimately preparing him for the business side of his budding career.
Two physics classes in particular made a lasting impact. “The physics of light and color and the physics of sound. Those two classes were really valuable to me both in my storytelling as a writer, as well as in production, because they actually taught me how light works, how color works, how we interpret sound and how sound works.”
He continued, “If you want to be a screenwriter, my advice would be don’t just take writing (classes). You need to study production, accounting, history, everything that you think will help you tell your story. I think that the more you can broaden your horizons the better, and you can do that at MSU.”
Meanwhile, across the country…
After college, Johns started his career in Los Angeles, working as an intern alongside the original Superman director, Richard Donner. He later became an assistant to Donner, wrote alongside him, and picked up industry insights along the way. In his professional career, Johns has become one of the most decorated comic book writers of his time. He has written highly acclaimed stories starring Superman, Green Lantern, the Flash, Teen Titans and Justice Society of America and is a New York Times best selling author for his comics.
As a hero in the halls of his office, Johns will play a crucial role in DC Entertainment’s current rebirth, aiming to bring DC Comics back to the basics and focus on storytelling first. Ultimately, striving to minimize the gap that lies between diehard fans and movie critics.
“At the end of the day, the thing I’m most interested in and the thing I’m most passionate about is story and character,” said Johns.
One idea Johns picked up from Donner that stuck with him is the concept of superheroes as “healthy junk food,” promoting a positive message while also entertaining. Johns told us that Donner believed, “you never do entertainment under the guise of a message, you do a message under the guise of entertainment. Whether it’s Superman’s inspiration and hope, or Batman’s justice – they all have these wonderful moral qualities to them and I think that’s why people respond to these characters so much.”
According to Johns, superheroes aren’t just fun to watch. It’s more about why they do what they do and how they do it that matters and is exciting to the viewer. When asked what superhero was most like him, he said it changes everyday.
“There are some days where you think you feel like Batman, where the world is dark and you have to fight back. There are days when you want to inspire like Superman. I’d say (I’m most like) Green Lantern. I love Green Lantern, I wrote him for 9 years, he’s all about willpower and perseverance and that’s how I got to where I am. I’ve got a lot of willpower and perseverance and I love what I do. And if you want to succeed that’s what you need to have.”
Wisdom built and shared
Perseverance, willpower and the ability to learn from past mistakes are all traits of popular superheroes – and even Johns himself. These traits have allowed him to face challenges head-on, working and learning as his career progressed.
“The truth is that the hurdles that I’ve faced in business and in my career have just been learning experiences. There are times when you try a new project and it doesn’t work or you’re working with someone and the chemistry isn’t producing the best work,” Johns told us. “Any kind of hurdle or challenge, as long as you keep working at it and try to learn from it, it’s ultimately a very good thing.”
Johns’ positive outlook on professional experiences – good or bad – has helped him to grow in his career. Never expecting a handout, always working for everything he’s received, Johns set out to prove himself and encourages current students to do the same.
“Being in the real world, in the job, you’re not going to be promoted just because you’ve been there a year. It’s not like school where you move on and you move up. You’ve got to prove yourself. You’ve got to work hard,” said Johns. “I loved Michigan State. I got so much from it and learned so much from my time there. And the one thing that they can’t teach you is when you’re in it. Get out here and really be a part of it.”
Sparty the next superhero?
Johns gave us some insight into what Sparty might look like as a comic book character, sharing how he would draw him.
“If we were going to draw him, he’d be as broad as Superman, maybe a little taller. We might want to give him a flowing cape, a green cape would be cool. I think he’d definitely be on the Justice League, though. He’s kind of a cross between a superhero and Popeye.”
And we’re sure that just like Johns, Sparty’s superhero would show the world how Spartans Will.
By Nikki W. O’Meara
Thursday, January 12th, 2017
Just a couple of days after Michigan State University released students for winter break, I had an amazing opportunity to travel to the Windy City with 38 other students and two faculty members. During this experience with ADV 402, a field experience course offered at ComArtSci, we visited several companies in the advertising and public relations field. We were able to make connections with MSU alumni, and gain a firm grasp on how the communications industry thrives in Chicago.
My study away trip was insightful, reassuring and most importantly, fun! Each student was assigned to their own itinerary for the week, which included a list of companies and times that we had to report to each one. While our faculty leaders John Besley and Andy Corner were there to make sure things ran smoothly, each student was primarily responsible for their own transportation to each site, living arrangements, food and free time, which we all made sure to take great advantage of.
Our group visited a total of 22 companies in a span of four days. Students were given the option to arrive in Chicago a day early to explore and prepare for a non-required visit Monday morning at the top public relations firm in the United States, Edelman. For me, this addition to the trip wa
s extra exciting because I plan to build a career in Public Relations. As a bonus, Edelman has been on my radar as a potential place to work for quite some time. Some of my best friends came on the trip as well, so we took an early train in on Sunday morning and had a free day to walk around, eat some Lou Malnati’s pizza (yum), and soak in the city lights before our busy week.
A common message that a lot of these companies went by was that a company’s collaborative, fun culture is the key to success. Going by the “work hard, play hard” motto, employers stressed how important it is to consider your co-workers as family and friends, while also maintaining close relationships with them outside of the office. One of my favorite takeaways from this trip was hearing the stories from MSU alumni about how they got to where they are today. As some students have already started to hit the panic button because they haven’t found a job yet, these employers made sure to emphasize how success will find its way if we stay persistent, confident and true to our values.
On Tuesday night, we had a student and alumni mixer set up for us at a restaurant called BlackFinn. Since going to each company consisted of group tours and soaking in a lot of information, it was difficult to stand out and talk to employers one-on-one. This was a great chance to be more personal with the alumni, exchange business cards and ask last-minute questions about their work. This is always a great way to relieve stress while getting to know everybody on a personal and professional level –my favorite portion of our week.
As my second study away experience with ADV 402 (first being in Los Angeles), I strongly encourage all students to take advantage of these special opportunities. To gain perspective from a wide range of professionals, while building connections at the same time, isn’t something you get in the classroom. My eyes have been opened on these trips because now I know what I want to do and don’t want to do, where I want to end up, and I have a great list of contacts to help me along the way.
Thank you to #ComArtSci, our alumni and our universal Spartan Network!
By Emmy Virkus
Full list of Companies:
Big Ten Network
Fishman Public Relations
Friday, January 6th, 2017
Advertising senior Monica Fleming gained exposure to the media industry strengthened her public speaking and presentation skills, and gained personal and professional confidence all in one short summer at Starcom USA in Chicago.
Starcom, USA is a media and advertising agency that specializes in technology and data. Fleming said throughout her internship with Starcom, she developed an unexpected interest in the technology sector.
As a digital media intern, Fleming would work on individual projects and reach out to partners such as Spotify, Pandora, Yahoo and Google in order to track impressions based on whether they were over or under expectations for that month. If impressions were under, she would negotiate another campaign to try to increase exposure.
One cool aspect of Fleming’s internship was that she exclusively worked on the Wrigley Company account, and the digital delivery team, giving her a lot of experience. Along with keeping up with competitor’s campaigns, like Starbucks and Skittles, she also got to practice her presentation skills.
“One of my goals was to work on my speaking skills,” Fleming said. “I started out with giving short presentations to my team on industry news, AP trends, actualizing budgets, media tools and sponsored post commercials. Each week I would add more and more and I started to notice how comfortable I was getting. I think what helped me is that in the beginning, I told myself that everyone was an intern and in college at some point and not everyone was always great at public speaking. It takes practice.”
Starcom helped Fleming grow both professionally and personally.
“At the beginning of my internship, I was definitely more timid,” Fleming said. “You don’t always know what the boundaries are when starting a new position. If you would have told me all of the things I accomplished and the experience I gained at the beginning of my internship, I wouldn’t have believed you.”
One of the things Fleming strived to do during her internship was always keep busy and always ask if there was anything more she could be doing to help her team.
Fleming also wrote biweekly newsletters for her team, keeping them up-to-date with Adweek tips, fun facts about people on the team, and other news and information she found during her research.
“I was surprised at how many moving parts there are when you are working in media,” Fleming said. “I once took a media planning course and it was kind of intimidating. I never really saw myself doing a lot of programming, but then I found that I really like the media landscape. This summer my focus was what’s happening now and the newest trends associated with that.”
Fleming said her biggest piece of advice would be to get comfortable with being interviewed. She suggests trying to do as many interviews as possible to practice and improve your skills.
“By now, I feel like I have it down, especially with phone interviews. I got more confident and in the end, those practice interviews prepared me for my interviews with Starcom,” Fleming said.
Fleming also recognized that her educational experiences helped her to get the most out of her internship.
“In the end, I think MSU definitely prepared me for Starcom,” Fleming said. “And ComArtSci prepared me well for different aspects in the media industry.”
By Meg Dedyne
Wednesday, January 4th, 2017
We are surrounded by body language, in every moment of every day. From passing the time people watching at the airport, or observing how co-workers are reacting during a meeting, we are being perceptive – and possibly reactive – to our reading of body language.
The Michigan State School of Journalism is leading by globally pushing the boundaries of fact-based storytelling, from multimedia to the visuals of photography and video. The newest frontier of powerful journalistic storytelling is Motion Capture, helping journalists document and produce layered stories. Motion Capture reads and documents body language, pairing state-of-the-art professional technology with one of the oldest forms of communication in all species on our planet.
The addition of Motion Capture technology, and the new Immersive Media newsroom, brings MSU’s J-School to the forefront of innovating newsgathering. Noitom’s Perception Motion Capture system will be part of MSU’s program, thanks to a groundbreaking partnership reached with the China-based company in early December.
“We are extremely excited about this opportunity working with you and anticipate all of the innovative possibilities that lie ahead,” said Susy Ferrer of Noitom.
MSU’s JRN 492, Motion Capture for Storytelling, course and the Animation and Comics in Storytelling Media minor, open to all undergraduates at MSU, will use Noitom’s systems.
“Our students in MSU Journalism’s animation and motion capture courses are already utilizing the Perception Neuron technology and suits and have been excited to watch their characters come to life in real time,” said lead Motion Capture/Immersive Journalism Professor Stacey Fox. “We are excited to partner with Noitom Perception Neuron as we increase our motion capture technology offerings for students and build our animation, sports and immersive journalism programs.”
Motion capture comes in many forms. The basic principle has a subject’s movement recorded within 3-D space, such as MSU’s new Immersive Media room, using Perception Neuron’s 32 inertial sensors (called “neurons”) placed at specific joints on a body. The information is transmitted to a computer, where the animator works to render the 3-D image into a dynamic format for different platforms of journalism.
“There are so many exciting and intriguing possibilities with this technology,” said Professor Joanne C. Gerstner, the Michigan State’s Sports Journalist in Residence. “Having the Perception Neuron as a storytelling tool allows us to teach students to be even more revelatory in their storytelling. Instead of simply describing a big sports play, we can take it to the level of showing the bio-mechanics to take the audience truly inside.”
Friday, December 9th, 2016
Our last sandbox spotlight of 2016 features Andrew Celini, a photographer and videographer in the Media and Information department. He focuses on capturing natural visuals and is shooting all the time in order to build a large portfolio. Academic community is very important to Andrew, “I look for a large, diverse, and engaging community where you can try weird and new things while at the same time being able to pursue what you are most passionate about, all of which I believe MSU offers students.”
Andrew impressed us with his large portfolio of photos. He’s done extensive work for someone so young. When asked, he had a long list of projects to reflect that. “Some of the work I’ve done includes landscape, cityscape, outdoor hunting tv shows, headshots, portraits, and various other stuff. What motivates me and makes me passionate about my work is trying to imagine a way I can make my work unique in someway, make it stand out as different from what everyone else is doing.”
At Sandbox we are so glad to see that drive to stand out and the dedication it takes to work seriously towards one’s goals. Andrew is a great example for incoming, current, and even past students. His only advice would be to take every opportunity to practice. He dreams of being a photographer for National Geographic and we wish him the best of luck.
If you’d like to see more of Andrew’s work, check out these pages:
Friday, December 2nd, 2016
Our fourth week spotlight is Bingkun Han, she is a Media & Information major and a jack of all trades with experience in Video, Audio, and Photo production. She chose MSU in order to pursue this major and says that she really appreciates that the environment at MSU is both professional and academic. She also has a passion for post production and has been producing video and audio while here. On the side, Bingkun has been volunteering at a local radio station and searching for other internships. Her dream job is as an Editor and Director.
She wants to personally thank Jon Whiting and Lisa Whiting-Dobson. Her advice to other students is “Try hard and don’t be afraid.” Which I think is a simple motto we should all keep in mind. Thank you to Bingkun for agreeing to participate in this series and we wish you luck on finding internships!
You can follow Bingkun at: www.instagram.com/blueandox
Saturday, November 26th, 2016
Benjy Joung is a poetic, ambitious photographer with a keen eye for photography. He’s studying Advertising here at MSU and has a very specific vision for his art, “I am constantly striving for honesty. Taking an honest photograph (or making honest art in general) is a constant struggle and goal of mine. To see art in the world is the first hurdle, but to convey that abstract sensation with physical tools in any sort of truly meaningful way can be evasive. When people see my work, I hope that they come away feeling like they are seeing something authentic — unaffected — or at least, real.”
Benjy started his time at Michigan State as a Cello Performance major, and though he’s focused on Advertising now, he says that music has a special place in his heart. He’s even getting ready for an internship this Spring at Primo Musicians in Manhattan. It seems that his drive has been encouraged by a number of things here in Sandox.
“My academic purpose in these four years is to become the best, most adaptable and competent person possible. Michigan State has a student body which inspires me to always excel, a mindset which encourages innovation and creativity, and faculty which don’t allow students to get comfortable with mediocrity.”We are so glad to hear that students like Benjy feel as though their professors are pushing them to be productive, he says it’s led to some interesting projects:
“My most recent photographic project was a series of street-photography and portraits in Europe. My goal was selfish — I wanted a chance to be vulnerable and ignorant. Shooting photos of strangers and strange places forces an acknowledgement of personal naivety which inspires a very special kind of perspective. The project taught me a lot about the value approaching a subject without preconceived ideas in order to capture it honestly.” This project was made possible because of some ComArtSci professors that Benjy would like to specifically thank!
“Howard Bossen and Darcy Greene are both mentors of mine. They founded the study abroad program (Photo Communication in Europe) which largely facilitated my photographic education. More than that, they encouraged and critiqued me during a pivotal period in my visual education — challenging me and motivating me to always make better images.”
We are so happy to see such persistent work and such dedicated passion in a student here in the Sandbox and we encourage you to listen to his parting words of wisdom:
“Don’t constrict yourself by too narrow of a dream. When I was in highschool, I had my sights set on Carnegie Hall, but later, in Music school I began to realize that music was only a small part of what I wanted to achieve personally. Find out WHAT you love; but then, find out WHY you love what you love. That “why” is what ought to define your dream.”
Thank you to Benjy for allowing us to feature his work, to Howard Bossen and Darcy Green for providing such an amazing program, and to you for reading!
Here’s a few places you can follow Benjy: