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School Of Communications

BYU Advertising Students Dominate the Student Emmy Nominations

Three Groups of BYU Advertising Students Were Nominated For the ‘Commercial, PSA or Promo’ Category, Guaranteeing A BYU Victory

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The BYU AdLab, a student-run advertising agency within the College of Fine Arts and Communications’ Advertising program, is known for its professionalism and skill.

This year, three advertisements nominated for the 42nd College Television Awards prove this fact once again. Of the three advertisements, “eBay - Dear Vanessa” took home the prize, but all three teams of students are proud of what they accomplished.

Advertising students Stephanie Blackham, Samuel Hart, Kylie Romano, Taylor Garrett, Madi Hill, Luke Roberts and Hailey Skinner shared their thoughts about their achievement and how the BYU AdLab led them here.

Dungeons & Dragons - Play Your Way
Taylor Garrett, Director
Savannah Butler, Producer
Alex McBride, Producer
Stephanie Blackham, Writer
Samuel Hart, Director of Photography
Kylie Romano, Art Director

How did you get into advertising?

Kylie: I've always loved art and storytelling. When I came to BYU, I thought I'd go into one of the design programs. I learned about the advertising program at the major fair my freshman year and thought the work the AdLab was doing looked so cool. I ended up talking to a family friend from home who is a creative director for an agency in Boston, and talking to him made me more interested in the field. I took the introduction to advertising class after my mission with the fantastic Hailey Peterson and just fell in love with it. I loved the creative problem solving, the design, the collaboration, the presenting, everything. I'm a huge extrovert, so I loved that it allowed me to be artistic and creative while working with others and collaborating together.

How has the BYU AdLab prepared you for a future career in advertising?

Taylor: BYU AdLab has helped me prepare for a career in advertising by setting up the program as close to the real world as possible. They help you learn how to go through the process of thinking creatively and pouring yourself into the projects you have the chance to work on. In conjunction with this, they offer real work to real clients that help students get even more experience. I am thankful for the mentorship that they offer and the notoriety of the program they have built, which has a valid reputation in the ad world.

Sam: The AdLab helped me build a resume and reel of work that helped me get where I am today. More than anything, however, it connected me with fellow students who are the future of the advertising industry.

What inspired you as you were working on Play Your Way?

Kylie: The strategy team came to us with a really cool brief that focused on highlighting the openness of Dungeons and Dragons, how players are really open to make any decision they want and be as creative as they like. I thought we could show that by having two characters reacting to the same situation in radically different ways, and we came up with this idea that each would meet with a creature, with one seeing an ally and the other seeing dinner. As we brought on Taylor as our director and continued honing the script, we found a way to show the twist in a more surprising way without showing it twice. Honestly, every member of the team helped us craft the story until it became its best version.

From an art standpoint, I grew up reading tons of fantasy novels and watching fantasy movies. I wanted the spot to feel big and magical and immerse the audience in the way those books and movies immersed me. The grants were a huge blessing in bringing that to life, as were lots of behind-the-scenes connections we made that volunteered their time, skills, costumes, etc. to this project. Even then, making the spot feel real required lots of hard work and attention to detail.

Taylor: There were many things we were drawing inspiration from as we were working on this piece. Some sources of inspiration were The Green Knight (2021) and The Revenant (2015). I was drawn to the imagery that felt a bit more grounded in reality, and working with Samuel Hart, our Director of Photography, was a wonderful experience as we shot listed and established the visual language of the piece. Kylie Romano and Ariana Tolbert did a wonderful job at sourcing wardrobe and props that were tangible and helped to build the world we were establishing. For the music, I was drawn to some different styles, and by collaborating with Daniel Davis, our composer and audio engineer, we were able to land on something that felt harrowing but redemptive at the same time. Savannah Butler and Alex McBride were an immense help with the logistical sides of the production and helping to source locations and talent. Roscoe McGee and Morgan Meik did a wonderful job of researching and creating the strategy that we built the idea around.

What was your biggest struggle on this project?

Kylie: The logistics were probably the hardest part of the project. We had such a big vision for this project, and bringing it to life was a lot of work. We had to somehow find a wolf, a horse, a tavern, medieval and fantasy costumes, a strong actor and all the little set design and costume pieces in the spot — and keep as close to budget as possible. We spent a lot of time reaching out to venues, Facebook groups and friends-of-friends-of-friends, but it was incredible to find this community of people who loved D&D or fantasy or were just excited to help out some students.

Taylor: Our biggest struggles revolved around talent and logistics of shooting. We struggled to find a location that resembled a tavern that would remain within our budget. It took a lot of searching around, but we were able to eventually lock down the Provo Pioneer Village which we transformed into our tavern. The art department did an amazing job of tying two separate buildings together to make them look as one.

What was your proudest moment?

Sam: I was excited with how the tavern scenes turned out. I was setting up at 3:30 PM that day and was working with the team till 3:00 PM when I dropped the equipment off. The lighting was complicated for these scenes, and we were shooting in two different buildings through the night, but because of the willingness of our crew and cast we were able to pull off something exceptional.

Stephanie: My proudest moment on this project was watching the initial cut because that was the first time I really saw our vision come together after all of the hard work and late hours we put into it. It was so gratifying to see it come to life and to know that we made it happen.

Do you have any fun personal connection to Dungeons and Dragons?

Stephanie: Sadly, I do not, but our strategists were able to bring it to life for us initially, and they even hosted a game so we could start to get an understanding of what we would be talking about.

Taylor: I have always felt envious of people that have been able to keep consistent campaigns going and having people to play with. I was never fortunate enough to play consistently, so I think my connection was rather envious of others that have played more regularly. I hope that our story shows how fun it can be to make whatever choices you want as you play.

eBay - Dear Vanessa
Andrew Rhee, Director, Writer
Madison (Madi) Hill, Producer

How did you get into advertising?

Madi: When I came home from my mission, I wanted something that allowed me to be creative but at the same time let me work with people, and advertising was such a great fit! Creating work that isn't only beautiful and tells a story but is also backed by a strategy and has depth to it is something that I love.

How has the BYU AdLab prepared you for a future career in advertising?

Madi: The BYU AdLab pushed me to make work that I was proud of and to learn how to work with others on my teams to bring ideas to life. Many late nights of brainstorming, weeks of researching to come up with the best ideas and long days on set really prepared me for working in the industry and have actually set me apart from other recent graduates as well. More than anything, learning how to work with other people to make sure we arrive at the best idea is something that prepared me to work with my teams in the industry.

What inspired you as you were working on Dear Vanessa?

Madi: Our director and writer, Andrew Rhee, was inspired by his parents who immigrated to the United States and the pressure that families similar to theirs feel as they start their lives in a new country. There was something so powerful and profound about tying that idea into the experience of rewatching those memories and using second-hand buys to relive those moments. This story was a tribute to Andrew's parents, as well as a way for eBay to connect with a deeper meaning that is present in the way people use their brand. Thinking about the experience and struggles of my own parents inspired me as well, and I wanted to create this as a tribute to them.

What was your biggest struggle on this project?

Madi: The same weekend that we were shooting this project, my dad went in for an unexpected emergency surgery. Having to balance the details of the project and making sure everything stayed on track, as well as supporting my family and helping them the best that I could, was difficult for me. I'm so grateful that I was able to work with such an understanding team and that they had my back not only as a producer but also as a person.

What was your proudest moment?

Madi: Problem solving on set is one of the things that I actually enjoy a lot and am proud of. On this project, there were a lot of different locations and settings that needed different materials, and being able to help with those was challenging but exciting. Figuring out how to craft a Christmas scene in the beginning of November or creating fake cobwebs using nothing but a glue gun and a hair dryer were details that stood out to me in this project, and I'm so proud we were able to pull it off!

GoSili - Made to Last
Luke Roberts, Director, Producer 
Hailey Skinner, Writer

How did you get into advertising?

Hailey: My entrance to advertising felt serendipitous. Two years into my undergrad, I still wasn't sure what to study. Nothing felt right. I was about to settle for something else when a friend asked if I had considered the BYU AdLab. I guess the content I made for fun reminded them of the content AdLab kids made in class. On a whim, I signed up for Intro to Advertising the following semester and was number three on the waitlist. On another whim, I showed up to the first day of class anyway. The professor told me the class was full and that if someone walked in and needed my seat, I would have to leave. I remember watching the seats fill up, telling myself if it was meant to work out, it would. By the end of class, every other seat was filled, but nobody ever came to take mine. The professor agreed to add me to the class and the rest is history.

How has the BYU AdLab prepared you for a future career in advertising?

Luke: The AdLab is essentially a copy and paste of how an actual ad agency works, so the transition to the industry was relatively seamless. Jeff [Sheets], Pat [Doyle], Chris [Cutri] and all the professors in the School of Communications and Advertising really did give us loads of opportunities, time and freedom to create work, enter award shows and nail different creative briefs.

What inspired you as you were working on Made to Last?

Luke: The concept itself was inspired by [Hailey]'s dating life. From a visual perspective, [Hailey and I] both really wanted to do something animated because we share a liking for the medium, and no one else was really doing a project like it in the lab. We were drawn to the cartoonish and caricature-style drawings I had been doing around the time and decided to run with that because it felt fun and was natural... and we didn't want to do anything boring! The color palette was directly inspired by the McDonald's Loyalty Rewards program designs that were done by BUCK and Wieden+Kennedy. I'm obsessed with the look and feel of all those illustrations and obviously the colors. I'm also obsessed with McDonald's so it seemed fitting.

What was your biggest struggle on this project?

Hailey: Neither Luke nor I had any experience in animation, so the animation in this piece, though simple, took quite a bit of research, YouTube video-watching and late night work. Luke led the charge on that, and we were really happy with how it turned out.

Luke: I have no formal animation training, so this project was an absolute beast for me to tackle. I did it all on my iPad on an app called Procreate which I quickly learned was not the most ideal software to make a minute-long video. But it was all I knew so we had to make it work. What made it really hard was all of the different character designs, scenes and layers that I had to draw out to add colors and shadows and stuff. The sixty-second product was the result of probably a hundred hours of animating.

What was your proudest moment?

Hailey: Seeing “Made to Last'' receive recognition from award shows has been such a surprising thing for Luke and me. It's a goofy piece, so we weren't sure anyone would take it seriously alongside the more serious, beautifully produced work from our classmates. I'm proud that we put the time and effort into an idea we believed in anyway and proud of ourselves for staying true to our personal styles. We both love work that doesn't take itself too seriously, and it's really awesome seeing that appreciated alongside the more serious or emotional pieces that often win the big awards.

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