SF Bay Area

A Taste of the Ad World

Students run with ideas and gain teamworking experience during four-day One Club Creative Boot Camp 

By Nina Tabios

One piece of advice from Yanan “Bella” Wang to anyone hoping to participate in the One Club Creative Boot Camp: “Get enough sleep and do your homework beforehand,” she said.

The M.A. student from Academy of Art University’s School of Advertising (ADV) was one of over 60 boot camp participants and a member of the winning group, 10 Out of 10. Among the 12 other groups, some who made sharp commercials, complex user experiences prototypes and print ads, 10 Out of 10’s business-first ad campaign for Levi’s won over the judging panel of professional ad creatives and the brand’s CEO of Marketing, Jennifer Sey.

“I always ask, ‘Is this going to drive the business?’” Sey said to the group as she and Karin Onsager-Birch, chief creative officer at FCB West presented their first-place finish. “You started with the product first and made your idea iconic but still tied it in with the brand.”

The One Club Creative Boot Camp is a four-day contest for ADV students to create a thoughtful, yet provocative campaign based upon a client brief. Held Oct. 16–19, this year’s prompt, sponsored by FCB West, a global agency in which Levi’s is a client, was about building awareness around the apparel company’s Tailor Shop and its customization capabilities.

To summarize 10 Out of 10’s concept, the idea “started with a stitch.” A single red box signaled the first step to make customization easier. In-store, any garment with a red box came with a free patch. Online, shoppers click the box and are brought to the Tailor Shop page; print ads and social media boost the creativity of customers by using the box as a frame for their imagination. For a nice presentation touch, each member of the group stitched their own red box on their actual denim garment.

“We basically started with 14 different ideas that we had to funnel down into this one that we focused on,” said Adam Kaiser, a B.F.A. student and one of the art directors for 10 Out of 10, who had five members in total.

“Controlling yourself as a creative is the hardest,” added M.A. ADV student Aya Harris, who also held the role of art director. “You hear this brand, and you think, ‘We can do this, we can do that,’ and it’s so crazy, but it’s also like, ‘What does the brief say? What’s going on within the brief?’”

Kaiser participated in last year’s boot camp and “definitely lost.” (The department has hosted six One Club boot camps since the arrival of ADV Associate Director of Art Direction & Industry Development James Wojtowicz.) He used his experience last year as motivation for the 2018 campaign.

“We really pushed through and really tried to engage [with the brief],” Kaiser explained. “But it’s nice to also get that approval, verification that the ideas you’re coming up with can actually lead to something way bigger than what you thought in the beginning.”

That confirmation of work couldn’t happen without The One Club. As a non-profit organization, The One Club’s mission is to support and celebrate the global creative community—from advertisers and art directors to designers and writers—through events, award shows, mentorship, and educational programs. The boot camps were born in part with their Inclusivity & Diversity initiative to bring students within proximity to some heavy hitters in the ad game across the globe, from San Francisco to Atlanta to Durham and as far as South Africa.

“Exposure is a huge thing,” explained The One Club Inclusion & Diversity Coordinator Jovanne A. Jerome. “We want to grant them access they normally wouldn’t have and allows them the space to formulate relationships with people who work in agencies, within big companies.” 

But the benefits also go two ways. According to Wojtowicz, the advertising sweet spot as far as the target audience goes is 18 to 25, so the boot camps are helpful for professionals to get an extra boost of millennial age thinking. It was later revealed that the Levi’s brief provided to student groups was a real one given to FCB (though slightly interpreted) where nothing was simplified or watered down.

“Because they are young and because their world is social media, most of their ideas started there,” Sey said. “These [students] view every opportunity to touch the consumer as marketing, so some of the ideas even start with a product which I thought was really interesting, to start with the jeans themselves versus a piece of marketing content. They just think of things differently.”

At the end of the presentations, the judges took nearly an hour deliberating on who earned the top spot in the competition. Some groups played to Levi’s iconism and heritage; others pushed the envelope by cutting off the tag. For winning, members of 10 Out of 10 get to customize their own Levi’s denim for free, go to dinner with the judges (“To schmooz,” said The One Club Director of Diversity Stephanie A. Smith), plus a chance to interview for an internship at the FCB West agency. 

“I feel like we’re weren’t trying to focus on just winning. We wanted to be proud of what we were showing,” said Harris from 10 Out of 10. “We thought that if we have this idea and we think it’s really good then no matter the results, we’re proud of this and we can add this to our portfolios.”

“They get a real taste of advertising. Even though it’s quite condensed, it’s not that different from an agency,” Wojtowicz said. Putting aside ego, maintaining integrity and working as a team—even through disagreements—are all part of the experience. “It’s a real exposure to the realities of the industry in a very condensed form.”

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