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.