Two teams featuring eight Michigan State University students won silver pencils at this year’s One Show Greater China Festival for campaigns they designed for Chevrolet in China.
MSU students Madeline Guzzo, Benjy Joung, Campbell Thompson and Amanda McCafferty worked together on the award-winning campaign as Team SpongeBaoBao. Joining them were three Chinese students they met the first day of the festival: Jiahao Yan, Lin Guo and Feng Pu. The team’s campaign introduced Chevy as a catalyst for cultural change in fighting sexism against women drivers.
The other award winners come from Team CC, featuring MSU students Parker Sessa, Eric Flewelling, Yi Rong and Zhen Feng. They were joined by Taiyou Chen, Hao Huang and Yuheng Sun to create a campaign that fused Chevy with China’s love for video games.
The awards, represented in the style of bronze, silver and gold pencils, went to three teams chosen by the panel of industry professional working as mentors throughout the competition. Nearly 400 students competed at this year’s One Show, and MSU students made up 17 of them – eight went home with silver pencil.
“Honestly, coming into the competition, I was expecting to be leaving after the first round,” Joung said after the ceremony. “The odds of having so many of us from Michigan State with silver pencils is incredible.”
Other recipients of One Show pencils included campaigns that featured mock game shows and collected drawings of children reinterpreting the automobile company’s logo.
The awards ceremony wrapped an extended day of presentations from teams who survived the previous day’s round of cuts.
All campaigns from MSU-based teams will be made available on this site at a later time.
Teams were working overtime as they faced cuts by mentors judging the best work from each classroom. Three out of the four MSU-based teams were selected to enter the final round at the One Show festival.
Tension built in the classrooms as lines of sleep-deprived and caffeine-fueled students filed into their seats. Over in Class C, mentor Jeremy Guo delivered calming words to a crowd of uncertainty.
“Be proud of your work, be proud of what you’ve done at the workshop,” Guo said.
Speaking to approximately 60 people per classroom, each team elected a member to deliver the presentation in Chinese and win over their two mentors. Tomorrow, teams who survived the cut will present their campaign in front of all conference attendees and a panel of judges. The results for the four MSU-based teams are as follows.
Team SpongeBaoBao: Advancing to finals
One of two MSU teams in Class C to make it to finals, Team SpongeBaoBao built their Chevy campaign around empowering women. In China, sexism plagues many aspects of life, especially driving. At some shopping center parking lots, spaces “reserved” for women are larger to accommodate for the stereotype of them being poor drivers and parkers.
So, in their concept, the team used Chevy to change the culture around women drivers. Videos show powerful interactions between a mother and a son reading sexist messages he shared online. A redesigned logo crosses the gender symbol for women with Chevy’s iconic cross, paired with a new slogan: “Driving women.”
Team Mosaic 6+1: Deferred, then cut
Team Mosaic 6+1 pulled an all-nighter to hammer out the final details of their campaign, only to be deferred in the first round of cuts in Class C. Their mentors initially elected three teams, including Team SpongeBaoBao, before granting a few more hours for the remaining teams to reevaluate their material and compete for a fourth spot.
This gave the team a bit more time to refine their idea, which was built around their new slogan, “Where you can be you.” Model commercials included an elderly man shuffling to his car and jamming to The Sugar Hill Gang when he got inside. In another, a ballerina finishes her exercises and rocks out to Drowning Pool in the privacy of her Chevy.
Arriving for the second round of cuts, Team Mosaic 6+1 was only one of three teams to show up – the other three remaining teams forfeited their second chance. Unfortunately, a second evaluation elected a different team to finals and Team Mosaic 6+1 was cut from the competition.
Team CC: Advancing to finals
Playing off of the country’s love for video games, Team CC invented a virtual reality game where people can race holographic cars across the nighttime Shanghai skyline. Their pitch included partnerships with Nintendo to market gaming controllers shaped after Chevy’s logo, coming in colors inspired by classic Nintendo characters.
Team CC’s catering to one of China’s greatest pastimes paid off – they’ll be going to finals.
Team Green Teeth: Advancing to finals
Team Green Teeth used the same inspiration found on American roads to implement their Chevy campaign in China. Clever animations aided the group in marketing ideas that beautified disgusting public restrooms and encouraged drivers to mix the thrill of driving with their favorite music.
The result was a campaign built on American ideas but adapted for an audience that doesn’t feel the same romanticism for hitting the open road for an unknown destination.
As the first day of cuts looms at the One Show Greater China Festival, teams spent their final hours hammering out concepts and moving into production. It was time to transform storyboards and sketches into presentable ideas for the classroom.
There, mentors will evaluate each team’s concept and choose who will advance to the next and final round of the competition. Having no time to waste, Team SpongeBaoBao’s Benjy Joung started Monday early by shooting the first minutes of video during his morning walk. A few hours later, the team met up in a long concrete hallway at the venue to shoot additional scenes. Joung held an unusual calm as the deadline approached.
“Right now, excitement level is higher than stress,” Joung said. “But that’s just because I’m distracted from stress. It’s not that I shouldn’t be stressed.”
Elsewhere, Team Mosaic 6+1 overcame one obstacle that worried many teams: having access to a Chevy car for shooting. As is common with other Chinese students at the competition, nobody on Team Mosaic 6+1 had a license to rent a car. So, teammate Xu Shang flagged down a Chevy and offered to pay the driver to borrow his car for two hours.
After haggling a price, the driver dropped off his car at a side street and looked on, seemingly unconcerned. The team moved quickly and began shooting as the nearby clay Shajing Port water stood still.
After sundown, Team CC piled into two taxis and went to shoot at the Bund, a waterfront area lined with historic buildings to the west and the Huangpu River to the east. Across the water was the nighttime Pudong skyline, the perfect backdrop for the team’s shoot.
Trip videographer Tanner Evans doubled as an actor for Team CC but found fame in another form. Throughout the trip, Evans drew attention from locals because of his over six-foot height, so it was part of the usual routine when a young couple walked up and asked to take a picture. But as he got into position the couple didn’t stand next to him – they handed over their baby and pulled out a smartphone.
“That was the first baby I ever held,” Evans said. “I still can’t believe that happened.”
Earlier, Brimmer made a trip to the WPP School of Marketing and Communication for another speech on Michigan State University’s advertising program. Named and founded after the world’s largest marketing group, the WPP School is less like a traditional university and more like a training school to place young adults into the growing Chinese advertising market. They’ve also built a close relationship with Brimmer over the years.
Dean Harrison Dong and other school staff affectionately refer to him as “Uncle Henry” and reminisce over memories made at previous advertising competitions.
Brimmer’s admiration at the WPP School is also evident in its students. By the time he reached the room where he would deliver his speech, he already received two rounds of applause: Once by a group of students waiting at an elevator (they let him go first) and again by early birds in the event room. One student spilled her bag of candy as she raised her hands to clap.
The professor’s speech resembled the one given at the One Show just two days earlier, but with slight revisions to cater the WPP students’ interests. A speech highlight was a “break” Brimmer took to have all the students write down their name, email and the answers to a few questions on a piece of paper. Then, he asked them to fold it into a paper airplane and throw it at him on his signal.
A flurry of reds and whites and yellows flew around the room as laughter (and more applause) erupted. Minutes later, a similar rush of hands shot up during a closing questions and answers segment.
The dean commented, “They never react this well.”
Questions revolved around the creative process and what it takes to keep great ideas alive – and accepting that one is capable of thinking of one. Brimmer encouraged students to never throw away ideas, especially the bad ones. It’s also accepting that the first idea is not always perfect. Eventually, he said, one will soar above the rest.
“Any special reason for the airplanes?” a student asked.
“No,” Brimmer replied, having stuffed them into his backpack to read later. “It’s fun. It has no meaning. They’re very beautiful… and they fly.”
Tomorrow, each team will present their concepts in front of their classrooms. By the end of the day, teams will be cut before advancing to the final round of presentations.
The site of this year’s One Show Greater China Festival rests in the heart of 1933 Shanghai, a multipurpose atrium with a collection of shops and restaurants lining concrete walls and decorated with lacy metalwork. Beeline straight for the entrance and you might miss a bronze plaque commemorating the structure’s initial purpose: systematically killing countless cattle.
Formerly known as the Shanghai Municipal Council Slaughterhouse, the basilica-inspired building served a booming industrial Shanghai since its construction in 1933. At its peak, the abattoir provided two-thirds of the city’s meat, according to China Daily. Since the early 2000s it has served as a picturesque dining and shopping destination and conference location.
If the term “concrete jungle” were not reserved for metropolises like greater Shanghai, it would be used for the layout of the former slaughterhouse and its numerous spiral staircases and narrow bridges crisscrossing several-story drops. Perhaps “concrete web” would be better suited for a place with no clear path from the ground to its rooftop garden.
In a design is so intricate and dizzying it’s easy to overlook its initial purpose as an efficient killing machine. Especially when walking past a Starbucks and a jewelry specialist.
Much of the slaughterhouse’s original design is still intact, including the grooved cattle ramp used to herd animals up to holding pens. Today, the ramp – along with the rest of the building – is a popular photo shoot location for families and newlyweds alike.
After resting and receiving a final meal in the holding pen, the cattle would be escorted across series of bridges that span the building’s walls and a center structure where the animals would be killed. The bridges are still used as walkways for visitors today but remain too narrow to stand side-by-side with another person.
Modern installations like handrails and wooden decks mask some of the concrete killing features of the past. In the center structure, resembling something like a multi-floored coliseum with a series of stairwells, a “Hunger Games” arena pits people against each other in a mock hunting game with bows and arrows. On another floor, visitors are locked in an escape room and solve puzzles and riddles to be freed.
Such repurposing feels intentionally twisted among specialty shops and a dog café. For teams at the One Show Greater China Festival, the macabre venue could serve as a metaphor for the intensity of the competition. Attendees staying at the neighboring Greenland Jiulong Hotel are also, according to city records, resting at the former site of the slaughterhouse’s cold storage.
Trip videographer Tanner Evans spent the past two days photographing numerous angles at the former slaughterhouse. View a gallery of his favorite shots below.
Tall, white dividers greeted teams walking into the conference center lobby on the third day of the festival. Packed between the dividers were a series of tables with letters at the entrance and two advertising industry professionals standing by.
These are the makeshift classrooms that each class will be using over the next few days. Here, with a view of a relatively smog-free day in Shanghai, teams interacted with their mentors for the first time.
Elsewhere, Michigan State University professor Henry Brimmer gave a presentation on the school’s advertising and public relations department to a quiet crowd. Walking in with an MSU hockey T-shirt, black denim jeans and polished Chelsea boots, Brimmer held up a canvas bag with the school’s name printed on the side. He reached inside.
“I brought you something in a little bag that says, ‘Michigan State,’” Brimmer told the audience with the beginning of a smile. “And this morning, I saw inside that it said, ‘Made in China.’”
After a quick laugh and introduction, Brimmer moved the presentation forward with a mix of video clips and statistics about the ADPR department. The professor of practice (or, “professor of nonlinear creative strategies,” as he describes) also included several points connected to ArtPrize in Grand Rapids, Michigan, of which he and his colleagues have contributed to in the past.
Back in the classrooms, each class was having very different experiences with their randomly assigned mentors. For Class C teams, including Team SpongeBaoBao and Team Mosaic 6+1, mentors gave a hands-off approach. Match creative partner Jeremy Guo (alongside Brimmer, temporarily substituting for Orangemai of McCann Shanghai) chose to meet with each group for 20 minutes and discuss all ideas on hand.
Team SpongeBaoBao arrived with a few ideas, but their winning idea formed on short notice – just a few minutes before Guo spoke with the team. After receiving the green light from Guo, the team moved to a coffee shop to continue work. There, the team shared first impressions of their mentor, agreeing with teammate Amanda McCafferty on how they enjoy Guo’s style.
“I heard that a lot of mentors might push their idea onto you,” McCafferty said. “He was more like, ‘I’m going to give you advice but not tell you what to do.’”
Teammate Campbell Thompson added her impression of Guo was his understanding of competitors wanting to have fun while building their work portfolio.
Team SpongeBaoBao was also visited a gentleman asking questions about their overall progress and offering suggestions for improvement. After he walked away, the man was revealed to be Glenn Cole, founder of award-winning advertising agency 72andSunny.
In contrast, Class A teams like Team Green Teeth received a much more hands-on approach from mentors. Executive partner Peter Shen and Innokids creative partner Hilario Wang gave all teams one task: come up with 60 different advertising campaign ideas. Shen and Wang wanted teams to get inspired by brands they love to better develop an idea that would sell Chevy cars in China.
The difference in approach set teams on different paths for the remainder of the afternoon and evening: Class C teams worked on their agreed-upon concept while Class A teams hammered out an extra 50-some ideas before meeting with mentors again.
Over the next few days, teams will continue to work closely with their mentors to develop advertising campaigns before the first round of cuts in the competition. Watch here for updates and for a feature on the history of the conference center, which was built as a slaughterhouse in 1933.
Competing teams were assigned into different classes (Class A, Class B, etc.) led by a set of professional mentors at the start of today's conference. These mentors will help the teams with their early advertising concepts for Chevrolet in China.
Taking breaks from industry speakers in the main hall, teams split off and began working on several concepts to pitch to their mentors. Due to the secrecy of the concepts and the nature of competition, we will not publish meeting details that could compromise the success of any team.
On a more general note, the challenge teams face is how to create a culture in China that romanticizes Chevy cars like Americans do. The difference is already clear in marketing campaigns between the two countries. In the United States, Chevy advertisements include “Find your roads” as a slogan, while Chinese advertisements have two slogans that translate into “Love what you love” and “Dream Unlimited.”
The Chinese slogans are less rooted in adventure and nostalgia, the latter method being near useless as a marketing tool for a brand without an established culture in the country. By contrast, the former slogan for U.S. branding played off of nostalgia: “Chevy runs deep.”
Late Friday brought surprise news that MSU professor Henry Brimmer will temporarily substitute as a Class C mentor after one of the assigned mentors had a scheduling conflict.
This change means two of the MSU-based teams will have Brimmer as one of their mentors over the next two days. Saturday, each class will meet their mentors and begin discussing early concepts for the Chevrolet advertising campaign.
Team Sponge宝宝 (SpongeBaoBao)
From left to right; starting with back row: Maddie Guzzo, Jiahao Yan, Lin Guo, Benjy Joung, Feng Pu, Campbell Thompson, Amanda McCafferty.
From left to right: Zhen Feng, Yi Rong, Eric Flewelling, Huang Hao, Taiyou Chen, Parker Sessa, Tianyu Shi
Team Mosaic 6+1
From left to right: Piper Cook, Laurel Chen, D.C, Marissa Ceccato, Tianyi Xie, Xu Shang, Anna Warbel.
Team Green Teeth
From left to right; starting with back row: Teng Teng, Larraine Fu, Carlie Wirebaugh, Sarah Ellison, Zihan Shen, Amy Xiang, Julian Plata.
Competitors at the 2017 One Show Greater China Festival will be creating an advertising campaign for Chevrolet over the next week. But before any ideas can be sent over to the automobile company, conference attendees needed to form each of their competing teams.
And marketing yourself is sometimes as difficult as marketing an entire car brand — the first test for the advertising and public relations students from Michigan State University.
Coming into the festival, the four MSU-teams each chose a name of an infamous character from the SpongeBob SquarePants series. Amanda McCafferty’s group picked “Team Hash-Slinging Slasher” but shortened it to “Team Hash” for easier translation into Chinese. The name was later scrapped over concerns of the word being slang for marijuana.
“We don’t want to be remembered as the weed group,” McCafferty said.
Later opting for “Team SpongeBaoBao,” McCafferty and her group members were on the hunt for additional members. Each group is allowed a max of seven people, and the majority of attendees assemble their groups during the first day of the conference.
The challenge? Finding other skill sets that complement the skills already in your group. Some of the searches involved sending pitches to a conference-wide group messaged on WeChat, China’s most popular messaging application. For Team SpongeBaoBao, locking in a talented videographer and producer was a high priority.
One of the first groups they formed didn’t fit their dynamic — too many writers and nothing filling the missing skills. Even after being turned away, the other attendees remained friendly and even encouraged the MSU students to reach out on WeChat if they ever stop by in Hong Kong.
Auditioning new members proved difficult at times. While recruiting groups like Team SpongeBaoBao can show off online portfolio work to woo prospective additions, the Chinese-English language barrier limits what can be used. Those with a copy editing skill, for example, can’t show off their English text to anyone who isn’t able to read it.
This was further complicated in groups who lacked a fluent translator to communicate abstract thoughts, going beyond basic conversational skills and into serious brainstorming. This is especially important in providing insight into another culture.
“We need to find someone who really knows Chinese culture (to) avoid making something overly Americanized,” ADPR student Marissa Ceccato said, part of a yet-unnamed team.
One of the featured speakers during the conference’s first day was a representative of Chevrolet who praised Chevy cars as being parked alongside other American icons like baseball and apple pie, citing upwards of 750 songs featuring lyrics about the brand. In China, however, Chevy is not nearly as romanticized. That’s where the advertising ideas come in.
When the registration period began at 6:00 P.M., attendees had approximately one more hour to secure their final group if that had not already. As creative minds began steaming out of the hall and into the center’s main lobby, a sea of signs rose among the crowd.
“NEED TWO MORE!”
“DO YOU SPEAK ENGLISH?”
Team SpongeBaoBao’s Maddie Guzzo held up a crinkled sign (that was previously used as a paper airplane by very relaxed ADPR professor Henry Brimmer, trip organizer) looking for someone with video production skills. Minutes later, she turned to her groupmates with a new face nearby.
“This girl does Adobe After Effects,” Guzzo said with a wide grin.
In the final minutes of the registration period, several groups were still looking for additional members to create a well-rounded team. All of MSU’s teams secured their members on time after a particularly stressful few hours.
Professor Brimmer, who swore to remain largely hands-off, offered a small piece of advice at the end of the day: “I think you’re freaking out too early.”
Tomorrow’s blog post will feature each of the four MSU-based teams and their additional members. Follow @msucomartsci on for live updates on our Instagram story.
Passports? Check. Earbuds? Check. First blog post? Check!
This morning, a team of 19 Michigan State University students left East Lansing en route to Shanghai. Fighting jet lag and mounting piles of homework, the team of creators, translators and documenters will take on creative competitors at the One Show Greater China Festival.
News on the trip can be followed in two places, the first of which is this website. Blog updates will be posted every evening in Shanghai, approximately mid-morning back at Michigan State University.
In addition to daily blog posts, we’ve taken over the Communications Arts and Sciences Instagram account! Follow @msucomartsci for trip photos and to watch for upcoming live streams from Shanghai.
Several days of competition await – send some words of encouragement to the team on Twitter and Instagram by using #MSUShanghai in your posts!
The team is about to board their flight to Shanghai Pudong International Airport, expected to arrive 2:35 P.M. on Nov 1 (local time). In the meantime, check out the bios and learn a little bit about everyone on the trip.