Recent advertising graduate Savannah Benavides ’17 reeled in a National Silver ADDY after hooking the judges with her witty 3-ad campaign for Ugly Stik, a company specializing in fishing tackle. The campaign had previously won a Gold ADDY at the local level and a Silver ADDY at districts, propelling her work to the national stage.
“I was really surprised, but mostly I was excited,” said Benavides. “It felt awesome to receive recognition for some of my work, but I was even more excited to work harder in order to create more for my portfolio. Winning awards is really nice, but it’s so important to learn as much as you can in the process.”
Fishing for Ideas
Benavides’ winning campaign was produced as an assignment for an introductory copywriting class she took her junior year under the direction of Lou Schiavone. For this particular assignment, students were to create advertisements for a brand of their choice. Benavides decided on Ugly Stik because of the challenge it would present her, and went to work on a list of ideas.
“My creative process is, in a word, exhaustive,” said Benavides. “I do my best to get out all of my ideas on paper as quickly as I can. My best ideas come when I’m rapid-firing them onto a piece of paper or into a blank document.”
Benavides decided to poke fun at the fisherman stereotype and produce a humorous campaign that would resonate with the target consumer audience. As the idea was further developed into three advertisements, Benavides gained constructive feedback whenever possible.
“Each step of the way, I had amazing peers and mentors giving me feedback, including criticism,” said Benavides. “It’s been so helpful to receive the insight and opinion of others, because it helps build me into a better creative.”
Enjoying the Ride
Benavides admits that she wishes she would have known the importance of finding fun in her work earlier on. In fact, her best work came when she stopped stressing and started producing because she wanted to.
“Of course, getting an education at Michigan State is something to be taken seriously, but it was so important for me to find the time and energy to fall in love with my work and the creative process,” said Benavides. “I really think the most vital part of the creative process is to be in love with it and to enjoy every minute of it.”
Benavides advises other students to pursue their passions and take pleasure in the process.
“Find a way to feel comfortable having fun and enjoying the field that you chose to pursue,” said Benavides. “But if you don’t enjoy the field that you’re in, change it. Life is short.”
By Kaitlin Dudlets
These are the words, accompanied with expertly designed graphics, that earned Lauren Cutler ‘16 and Matt Richter ‘16 a National Gold ADDY. During an intensive advertising portfolio workshop, the then-students were given a creative brief to invent a micro-brewing company that is by women, for women: Lumberjane Brewing Co. was born.
“Our strategy in this campaign was to address the archaic “just for men” culture surrounding beer, so we created a microbrewery brand specifically for middle-class, hard-working women,” said Cutler, a junior art director at Güd Marketing in Lansing. “We created a campaign that is caught between delicate and rugged, for a semi-feminine beer with a punch of attitude.”
The campaign has been wildly successful. Lumberjane is the winner of a Gold ADDY for Integrated Campaigns, a Gold ADDY for Packaging and a Judge’s Choice Award at the 2017 Mid-Michigan ADDY Awards Show. Following its success at the regional level, Lumberjane has gone on to win a District 6 Silver ADDY, as well as the National Gold ADDY, which Cutler accepted at the awards show in New Orleans on June 10.
“I have a few other ADDYs, but this one being a national award definitely takes the cake,” said Richter, who is currently interning at 360i in New York City. “ADDYs are great resume builders, and they definitely substantiate your work.”
While Cutler served as Lumberjane’s art director, Richter was the copywriter – though the distinction between their roles was often blurred. Cutler accredits much of the project’s success to the collaborative effort between Richter and herself.
“Concept development is the most important part, and both Matt and I spent a lot of time making sure the goals of the campaign completely lined up with the way we would execute it,” said Cutler. “I think that’s why it’s been so successful.”
The Summer Intensive Workshop
Lumberjane was created entirely in the realm of ADV 455, the Intensive Portfolio Workshop that is only offered during the summer semester. Cutler admits that the workshop is not for the faint-of-heart, as it is held Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m.‒5 p.m.
“The Intensive Portfolio Workshop is an absolute must for creative advertising students,” said Richter. “It’s the closest you will ever get to working in an agency while still in school. Deadlines are strict, it involves a lot of late nights and you will regularly get scolded, but at the end of it all, you will have some really great work to show off to recruiters.”
While Cutler advises other students to “Have fun, work hard and believe in what you do,” Richter wants advertising students to take advantage of everything the program has to offer.
“Do everything. Take the summer Intensive Portfolio Workshop,” said Richter. “It’s not just a great portfolio builder, it gives you a taste of what work will be like after school. It also leads to the creation of great relationships with people like Henry Brimmer, Ross Chowles and Lou Schiavone. These aren’t normal professors. These are people who will bend over backwards to get you a job, because they believe in you.”
By Kaitlin Dudlets
Each year, young creatives from the College of Communication Arts and Sciences submit their work in the hopes of winning an ADDY Award. The annual award ceremony is organized by the American Advertising Federation and the Mid-Michigan Creative Alliance and recognizes students and professionals for their work in TV, print, design and digital.
Above: Ad created by Madison Johnson for her brand “Bad Habits Brewing Company,” won her a Gold ADDY and Judge’s Choice award. She won 11 awards in total.
The submitted works were judged by a panel of professional advertising creatives, including Andy Azula, the creative director and vice president at The Martin Agency in Richmond, Virginia; Silver Guellar III, from Van Winkle + Associates in Atlanta, Georgia; and Melanie Wiesenthal, a partner at Deerfield, a branding and design studio that focuses on fashion and beauty in Brooklyn, New York.
Eric Schwartz, advertising senior and Silver ADDY winner, looks forward to the ADDYs each year, as they promote and reward students in the MSU Department of Advertising + Public Relations and local professionals for their hard work.
“The ADDYs to me is such a great way to celebrate the work that students do in and outside of the classroom, and the hard work that professionals are doing in the industry just down the road,” said Schwartz. “The students in the creative concentration within the advertising program are small and few, so having an event to celebrate and bring all of us together is really special – it’s a family reunion of sorts.”
This year’s entries included ads for Fruit of the Loom, Walgreens, Best Buy as well as companies and brands created by the students.
Above: Ad created by Madison Johnson, won a Gold ADDY for TV Advertising and an Excellence in Diversity award.
Students stole the show with stunning work
Recent advertising grad Lauren Cutler was awarded a Gold ADDY for work on a brand she created called Lumberjane, with fellow student Matt Richter. The brief they were given was to create packaging and advertising for a brewing company – for women, by women. Cutler also won a Judge’s Choice award for the brand, which she was excited to receive from judge Andy Azula.
“This year’s ADDYs was really wonderful. The student work was exceptional, even compared to last year’s,” said Cutler. “The most rewarding part of the whole experience is seeing your classmates and friends be recognized for the awesome stuff they do and to celebrate all our hard work together!”
A total of 60-plus awards were given to students in MSU’s Advertising + Public Relations program this year. However, if this were the Olympics, senior Madison Johnson would be Michael Phelps. She left the ADDYs as the most decorated student of all time. With 11 awards, ranging in color from Bronze to Gold and a Judge’s Choice, Johnson said she felt very lucky.
“The awards I am most proud of are my Judge’s Choice and Best in Show for Bad Habits Brewing,” said Johnson. “I created the project over the summer in the Intensive Portfolio Workshop with Henry Brimmer and Lou Schiavone, but kept working on it afterward which is something that I should do with all my projects. Because I spent so much time on it, refining and adding, it was really great to get recognized for the hard work.”
Another honorable mention includes Tiffany Nagy’s “Coming Out” film trailer, which won gold for Television Advertising.
Above: Ad created by Tiffany Nagy, won gold for Television Advertising.
Celebrating creative work
Ross Chowles, professor of practice in the MSU Department of Advertising + Public Relations, compared having an ADDY award on a resume as “ringing a bell” that the student has something special about them.
“You could have a nice portfolio, but having an award starts to ring a little bell that this person is different,” said Chowles. “More important, I guess, is that competitive spirit, that belief in their work. The problem with our business is it’s all of gut feel. It helps
acknowledge your gut feel when someone says ‘Yeah, it’s great’, but even then, it’s the judges’ opinions.”
A Gold ADDY allows the winner entrance into a regional competition and, depending on performance, potentially entered at the national level. We wish our Gold ADDY winning students the best of luck in the upcoming competitions!
View all of the ADDY Award entries on the Mid-Michigan Creative Alliance’s website.