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Helayne Spivak, Director Dear Graduating Class Of 2016, Guess what? Maybe this will surprise you, maybe you’ve known it all along but the fact of the matter is… It’s all about you. Everything. Our past, present and especially our future: It all depends on you. Don’t worry. We’re not buttering you up to ask for donations…Not yet, anyway. We just want to take the opportunity on this, the 20th Anniversary year of VCU Brandcenter, to say thank you. You are what the world will know about us, our legacy. Twenty years ago, as VCU Adcenter, we had a clearly stated mission: We’re not out to change the world, just advertising. It was a goal we relentlessly pursued, developing outstanding creative talent to fill the creative departments of top advertising agencies. As time and new technologies progressed, advertising did change…as did the entire world of business, going from the “age of efficiency to the age of creativity.”* We realized early that the brand busi-

ness needed a catalyst to infuse creative thinking throughout all facets of brand marketing. So we changed as well, adding strategy, creative brand management and what is now experience design to our program, and in 2008 we became VCU Brandcenter. Our mission has evolved accordingly: To develop the world’s best creative problem solvers. So you see, we’re right back to you. Over the past two years you were presented with tough challenges and you took them on. You were pushed to experience failure to measure how hard you pushed back to succeed. Now you’re about to take everything you’ve learned here out into the world to make your dent. If that thought makes you a little nervous, good. If it makes you more than a little excited, even better. What the past 20 years have proven is that the Brandcenter experience is something you take with you. The friendships you’ve formed here last way beyond graduation day. Brandcenter alums watch out for one another, often hire one another, and, on more than a few occasions, marry each other. (40 couples and counting, according to Ashley…) Then there are your professors, the passionate and never complacent creators of


your Brandcenter experience… I’ve heard from so many of you how highly you regard them. I want you to know before you leave how highly they regard you. Teaching isn’t easy. Especially when what you’re trying to teach someone is how to think more creatively. Helping you rewire your brains to make startling connections is our purpose. Making sure it happens in two short years takes intense, tireless dedication. It requires not allowing you to stop at “good.” It’s knowing how to bring out the best in you, even when you’re not sure you have it to give. This can only happen when someone cares passionately, or 11 someones, as is the case at Brandcenter. (Please stay in touch, they’ll miss you.) That’s it. You’re ready. Just promise to come back sometime soon to speak at Friday Forum about your success. I just need to say one final thank you, to each and every one of you, for having given us the ultimate 20th Anniversary gift: the opportunity to prepare you for your very bright futures. Go shine. Helayne Spivak * Quote from board member Gareth Kay, Co-Founder Chapter SF

DAYQUIL AD: Anna Andreen CW: Sarah Westerfield STIHL AD: Anna Andreen CW: Prit Patel




LEVI’S AD/CW: Lindsay Cecero



CROCK-POT AD: Lindsay Cecero CW: Emily Hovis


MARIO BIBIAN, Art Director




Coloring book filled with sign designs to get kids and enthusiasts excited about sign painting.


T-shirt ANDREW MACK BRUSH COMPANY AD: Rachel Wyse CW: Emily Hovis


SMARTWOOL AD: Lily Fu CW: Stephen Shocket




BASS PRO SHOPS AD: Allison Apperson CW: Ray Tolbert



LION BRAND YARNS AD: Roxie Reeves CW: Grace Xie


The Challenge Bring a product or brand back from the dead. We chose the mood ring.

Current Problem After its cult popularity in the 70s, the mood ring fell from grace, moving from jewelry stores to gumball machines.

Key Finding The pressures of social media contribute to teenage girls’ increased anxiety and low self-esteem.

Our Strategy Provide a safe space for girls to be honest and vulnerable with the people they trust the most, focusing on internal reflection rather than outward appearance. AD: Tori McGoogan CW: Scott Dobbin ST: Christian Clay ST: Steven Ebert CBM: Kate Stewart XD: Christina Foy

Introducing Runa A modern twist on the classic mood ring. Part physical product, part private social network, RUNA utilizes a wearable tech ring to allow teenage girls to broadcast their current mood to their five closest friends. A corresponding iPhone app allows girls to easily browse their RUNA Circle’s moods and update their own.

The Modern Mood Ring The name Runa comes from the nordic “rune,” a system in which one symbol could mean an entire feeling. One band on the wearable-tech device can be turned left and right to communicate your mood. The ring illuminates colors corresponding to your selected mood.

Five Unique Personas No teenage girl is the same, so we wouldn’t dare try to offer a one-style-fits all product to them. Each ring is modeled after a specific persona with whom our target readily identifies: Alice the Class President, Hannah the Dreamer, Blythe the Socialite, Jae the Rebel, and Macon the Creative. Each persona is brought to life through her customized ring, packaging, typeface, pattern, and color scheme.


The App Homescreen: view the moods of all your friends at a glance.

Swipe through friend’s moods, check out their status and photo updates.

Runa Chat: chat with your RUNA circle or have secret chats with individuals.

My Mood: Change your mood with your ring or in app. Add an optional status and photo update to share with your friends.

Packaging Each device comes in its own unique packaging, reflecting the design style of the selected persona. The packages are designed to fit together, similarly to the way each girl in your friend group comes together.


DANIELLE YOUNG, Creative Brand Manager



PITCHFORK AD: Roxie Reeves CW: Charlie Curnow



PATIENT FIRST AD: Sara Carr CW: Jacob Pankey


A board game for creatives.

AD: Lily Fu

All great advertising begins with a great idea, but so many events can get in the way of that eureka moment. Life happens. Moods can sour quickly. No matter what unfolds, the deadline remains. Players must work in teams to collect insights and arrive at a solution for the brief – all the while racing against the clock. This is the creative process, from concept to pitch, encapsulated in a board game.



Problem Traditional care packages can often be wasteful or filled with things a Peace Corps volunteer doesn't need.

Solution Homepost, a subscription care package service that auto-populates a customs form as you shop from an inventory of select items and is sent in boxes that can be repurposed to minimize waste.

HOMEPOST AD: Anne Marie Wonder XD: Qin Yang KRYPTONITE LOCKS AD: Tori McGoogan CW: Scott Lucien




Competitive Advantage

Caregiving is complicated. Whether pulled into their caregiving role by love, guilt, or demand, more than 43 million adults in the United States are currently providing unpaid care, and are resistant to ask for help because their responsibilities are so complex and emotionally ­charged. We saw an opportunity to develop a product to alleviate “caregiver burnout.”

Voluntask provides care for caregivers, emotional support through a trusted, close-knit network of friends, family and neighbors. We also assist with help finding helpers, by creating a proactive, local community to assist with functional tasks.

Business Opportunity We will negotiate partnerships with local and national companies to provide rewards for the Voluntask network.

Solution We wanted to restore a caregiver’s sense of well-­being through small tasks that lead to mighty moments; so we created Voluntask: an app-­based solution that leverages and formalizes caregivers’ existing local networks of friends and family members to make it easier for them to ask for and receive help.

Tasks are bucketed into categories to better inform helpers about the scope of the task.

Simple color-coded form fields make it easy to create and share tasks with the community.

Display information about dependents in “My Profile.” Voluntask is built around caregiving, but it’s not exclusive to caregivers.

The colors used correlate to task, duration and date, making it easy to parse content in the “Community Tasks” view.


VOLUNTASK ST: Noel Van Aartrijk CBM: Danielle Young XD: Bryan Mortensen XD: Mikaila Weaver ANDREW MACK BRUSH COMPANY AD/CW: Lily Fu


KARL GILES, Experience Designer



HUNTER AD: Alexis Kafkis CW: Sean O’Connor


JAYBIRD AD/CW: Mario Bibian



MEGABUS.COM AD: Lindsay Cecero CW: Stephen Shocket


OLD TOWN CANOE COMPANY AD: Matthew Terrell CW: Prit Patel




MILK DUDS AD: Lily Fu CW: Patrick Newman


People are often disappointed by the fruit they buy. Subjective "eye tests" and unscientific poking aren't enough to discern when fruit is at its ripest – the moment it tastes ​​best and is most nutritious. As the world's largest producer of produce, Dole has an incentive to ensure every consumer can buy the ripest fruit. Introducing RYPE. By employing molecular scanning technology you never will cut into a mealy melon or brown avocado again.

AD: Sara Carr AD: Alexis Kafkis










NOXZEMA AD: Anne Marie Wonder CW: Michelle Smith

EMILY HOVIS, Copywriter





WWE AD: Lindsay Cecero CW: Scott Lucien

Don Julio logo is unexpectedly revealed once the shot glasses hit the table.

The phone app is a guide to the most authentic Tequila bars in town that offer Don Julio.


DON JULIO AD: Mario Bibian CW: Charlie Curnow RAIN-X AD: Matthew Terrell CW: Scott Minniear


GRANSFORS BRUK AD: Jonathan Hirsch CW: Patrick Newman




SKILCRAFT AD: Jonathan Hirsch CW: Prit Patel



SUPER 8 AD: Yelena Sophia CW: Kevin Fitz


ERIC OSBURN, Strategist




OXO AD: Logan Kornhauser CW: Mike Stango BOTA BOX AD: Sara Carr CW: Jacob Pankey


THE TELEGRAPH FRAGMENT AD: Rachel Sheeran AD: Yelena Sophia CW: Scott Dobbin

News is inherently biased. Fragment is trying to change that. Fragment is a portable device attached to a social news network that delivers a 360 perspective on news. It allows Telegraph subscribers to learn and contribute on a platform that gives a voice to the billions of people across the world.

The back of the device uses micro cameras to capture video.

Blue pins represent original Telegraph content and red pins are stories submitted by users.

The Skype translator will let users watch videos in any language.


Archives will feature previously submitted stories.


WYOMING AD: Jonathan Hirsch CW: Scott Dobbin

POP! Education is a brand extension designed to give kids (6-13) a new, fun way to learn. Each new vinyl figure set will have its own theme: Creators, U.S. Presidents, or Outlaws, and will feature POP! Vinyl’s popular aesthetic.




POP! Mobile Travels to conventions and schools to host interactive, educational games and promote our new way of teaching. SOCIAL

YouTube Unboxing Series YouTube personality “Lily” hosts unboxing videos of new POP! education figures and throws in some educational facts about the person while she’s at it.


POP! EDUCATION AD: Allison Apperson AD: Shannon Smith CW: Ray Tolbert DETROIT AD: Logan Kornhauser CW: Ray Tolbert

65 HOT HANDS AD: Logan Kornhauser CW: Jon Northrop


PROBLEM The world has been battling malaria since the dawn of time. The easiest way to prevent malaria is by sleeping under an insecticide-treated bed-net (IBN). But while the use of IBNs can cut malaria illness in half, fewer than 5% of African children sleep under a net.  WHY IS THAT? International aid groups and non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) often don’t consider that they’re imposing solutions from an outsider's perspective, thereby foisting nets on people who aren’t sure they want them, or want to use them for other purposes. OPPORTUNITY Everyone talks about the functional benefits of a mosquito net, but it’s not resonating. We have the opportunity to set a new precedent for the emotional benefits of one. SOLUTION LeoCove: A locally produced, fully functional bed net disguised as a specially-designed, retailed household fixture. We will move the IBN from something "free and medicinal" to something personal, desired, and lovely for people to hang in their homes.


Nets are distributed and sold out of bike carts, placed in large community gathering spaces — markets, bus stops (another popular mode of transportation), and outside of soccer stadiums.

LEOCOVE AD: Yelena Sophia CW: Kevin Fitz ST: Noel van Aartrijk CBM: Adeel Shams XD: Qin Yang

HOUSE OF CARDS AD: Logan Kornhauser

When we were assigned a digital magazine, we decided to follow the old adage, “write what you know.� We came up with Gristle, an ode to those who think with their stomachs because their brains are tired and their wallets are empty. Gristle is a mobile magazine dedicated to the art of budget living. Through many different categories including fashion, food, fiction, and fitness, we show you the cheapest way to live a rich life. GRISTLE AD: Anne Marie Wonder CW: Mike Stango XD: Mikaila Weaver





PetPace for Canine Epilepsy Pivoting a brand to solve a market need. Problem Like many other canine wearables, PetPace currently positions itself as a health and fitness tracker. PetPace is the only brand on the market with live tracking, but doesn’t use this feature to its full potential. Solution Focus the brand to concentrate on a specific health condition: canine epilepsy. The Product The PetPace ecosystem consists of two parts: canine smart collar and mobile application. By tracking heart rate, respiratory rate, body temperature, and movement, PetPace can be used as a tool to alert pet parents if their pet is having a seizure. PetPace can also track quantitative data on each seizure to more effectively treat and manage canine epilepsy.

XD: Christina Foy XD: Bryan Mortensen


Background Christina’s dog, Bobo, suffers from canine epilepsy. A constant anxiety for pet parents with epileptic dogs (like Christina), is that their pet may be having a seizure when they’re away from home and can’t do anything about it/would never know.

NAPOLEON AD: Ryan Arnett CW: Devin Altman


exchange off-platform contact information. An omnipresent chat feature allows matches to talk and answer prompts designed to help opponents get to know one another. In addition to driving matches to nearby date spots via Yelp integration, Checkmate members receive a discount code to purchase their very own chess set from ChessUSA.

Assignment Help more people reap the physical and emotional benefits of playing chess, such as the promotion of brain activity and aid in Alzheimer’s and dementia prevention. Problem Even though playing as few as 10 sessions results in cognitive benefits that remain significant for 10 years, habit formation is tough and simply outlining benefits is insufficient. Strategy Make connection the reason you play. In order to trigger habit formation, we must focus on emotions, as they steer action far more than logic. Our conclusion? The start of a relationship is an interesting opportunity for sparking a love for chess. After all, couples (and friends) create lasting traditions together. Solution Introducing Checkmate: A smarter way to meet people. Checkmate is a companionship application that sets play and conversation as the foundation of the relationship. Users are invited to “make a move” with nearby matches, where they must play a full game of chess in order to reveal the other’s photo or

Target Countless studies prove that companionship boosts emotional health, leading to a longer, happier life. Checkmate is designed for 35- 60-year-old singles who have a hard time meeting a partner organically and who use dating apps in hopes of finding a serious and lasting relationship. This group prioritizes conversation and intelligence, and they regularly play online games. The shared experience of playing chess will strengthen bonds between participants while increasing cognitive and emotional health. Creative We thought it best to go right at pain points associated with other dating apps. The tag “A smarter way to meet people” focuses on the fact that even unsuccessful matches are fun (time spent playing) and that Checkmate functions as a litmus test for others’ intentions. Online dating can be frustrating, but game play is a test of patience, nerves, willpower and concentration, indicating a commitment to the pursuit of the relationship.

Play a game with your daily match to unlock his/her profile picture.

Icons indicate if your match is looking for romance, friendship, or both. Learn or strengthen game concepts from beginner through pro levels. Simplified icons indicate how each piece moves. Unevenly matched players are secretly handicapped in the form of endgames, keeping intimidation to a minimum. A live chat feature and in-game prompts promote conversation. An integration with Yelp gives smart options for matches to take companionship beyond the app.


Watch the full-length walkthrough at

CHECKMATE AD: Anne Marie Wonder CW: Sean O’Connor ST: Sam Halle CBM: Jahan Nargolwala XD: Emily Reese



GATLINBURG, TN AD: Allison Apperson AD: Lindsay Cecero CW: Jacob Pankey



LAND ROVER AD: Boris Opacic CW: Prit Patel


NIMA KHALILIAN, Creative Brand Manager



Robo Cage is a miniature smart home that gives small pets a vocal personality and encourages kids’ responsibility as caretakers.

How It Works Water Bottle - pressure sensor detects empty water bottle and triggers voiceover audio to play from speaker. Wheel - hamster’s movement on wheel triggers motion sensor to play workout music.

Food Bowl - pressure sensor detects empty foodbowl and triggers voiceover audio to play from speaker. Front Area - hamster’s movement in front of cage triggers voiceover audio to play from speaker.

XD: Olivia Cooper

The App Home Screen - head to the community space “robo universe” or customize your cage.

Robo’s smart cage for communicating his needs is rigged with sensors that are triggered by his movement.

Profile - see how your care score stacks up against the community.

He asks for food when the bowl runs low.

Photo Booth - take filtered photos of you and/or your pet and share with the Robo community.

And expresses himself freely at the front of the cage.


OTTERBOX AD: Tori McGoogan CW: Emily Hovis



BROTHER P-TOUCH LABEL MAKER AD: Boris Opacic CW: Michelle Smith




SPANX AD: Shelby Lemons CW: Patrick Newman

PRIT PATEL, Copywriter




DYSON DARWIN AD: Lindsay Cecero AD: Boris Opacic CW: Patrick Newman ST: Natalia Estrada CBM: Whitney Paul CBM: Adeel Shams



LODGE SKILLETS AD: Logan Kornhauser CW: Prit Patel


NAIR AD: Alexis Kafkis CW: Scott Dobbin










PUBLIC STORAGE AD: Anne Marie Wonder CW: Prit Patel


SLIM JIM AD: Shannon Smith CW: Michelle Smith



RUB AWAY AD: Liz Malenfant CW: Scott Dobbin


MIKAILA WEAVER, Experience Designer



GORE-TEX AD: Lindsay Cecero CW: Katie Tiambeng



MCCAFÉ AD: Tori McGoogan CW: Prit Patel




our period plan of attack many social scours | one all-female focus group + survey (n=262) | five chocolate bars one box of Midol | one all-male focus group + survey (n=201) | four store checks | lots of feelings


many stereotypes, few truths There are many stereotypes about women on their periods — they eat a lot, they cry, they get (really) angry.

Period care commercials perpetuate these menstrual myths, using category tropes of blue liquid and white clothes that trivialize the female cycle, implying that periods are little more than a nuisance — slightly messy, but bearable. 
 And certainly not warranting of the shrewish behavior women are accused of exhibiting. Q: WHAT SYMPTOMS DO YOU MOST OFTEN EXPERIENCE? 1. cramps 2. bloating 3. fatigue

“Sometimes it’s so bad that I’m nauseous, throwing up 
 or just doubled over in pain.” “My cramps and lower back pain sometimes make it hard for me 
 to get up and walk around.”

visits from aunt flo 
 are the worst fact

Only 4% of women say they do not experience any symptoms during menstruation, while a full 89% say their period affects what they feel they can and cannot do.


enter midol There’s more to a period than blood. 
 Midol’s acetaminophen treats pain, cramping, backaches, headaches, and muscle aches. Its caffeine fights fatigue and helps ingredients enter the bloodstream faster. And, its Pyrilamine Maleate reduces bloating due to water retention.

“I don’t think about buying medicine for cramps or whatever until I’m in so much pain that I just take whatever is closest.”


out of sight, out of mind problem

midol is an afterthought

It’s human nature to ignore things that don’t affect us. 
 But that doesn’t make us immune to what we don’t acknowledge; instead, it makes us vulnerable 
 and ill-prepared for the inevitable.

Because it’s specific to menstrual pain relief, the brand is considered a “nice to have,” but not a “need to have,” despite its effective multi-symptom relief. 79% of women say they use medication to treat period symptoms. But only 12% use Midol, and an additional 
 12% have never heard of it (most use Ibuprofen).

50% of women say the symptoms (not the blood) are the worst part of getting their period.


periods are inevitable;
 the symptoms don’t have to be

It’s easy to focus on the mess of menstruation, because that’s the part that’s visible. 
 But there’s so much more to periods than tampons and blood. It’s time to put the spotlight on the turmoil that’s happening inside a woman’s body. It’s time111 to get Midol off the shelves and into the medicine cabinet. 
 Remember: the symptoms are the enemy. And the average pain reliever is not equipped for that particular battle.

MIDOL ST: Miranda Germano ST: Pat Grayhack ST: Sam Halle ST: Anthony Kondeati ST: Rebecca McNerney

TIBOR AD: Liz Malenfant CW: Michelle Smith





Package Redesign Explorers used to sail off the edge of the map for spices, but today they are just another commodity on a shopping list. We redesigned packaging to streamline the user experience, remind cooks of spices' importance, and cement McCormick's position as a leader in the spice market. AD: Alexis Kafkis CW: Jon Northrop ST: Prateek Patnaik ST: Chane Rennie CBM: William Espinoza XD: Heather Keller


Problem NASA Earth, the earth science division of NASA, has provided the world with just about everything we know about climate change. Problem is, too many young Americans don’t even know NASA Earth exists. NASA Earth is the sleeping giant of the climate change issue.They currently monitor and inform, but not in a way that inspires people to action or makes the general American aware of NASA Earth.

AD: Tori McGoogan CBM: Alex Whitman

By taking a larger role in climate change, NASA Earth has the opportunity to do what is right for the world, and what is right for NASA.

Solution NASA Earth needs to reintroduce itself to the upcoming generation. NASA Earth’s new goal - unite the last generation who can stop climate change.

Strategy Reaffirm the threat of climate change by reestablishing the connection people have with their home planet, in order to unite the upcoming generation to demand change. #MyHomeIsEarth Social Campaign

NASA Earth Climate Change Posters


NASA Earth Expo: Uniting the leaders in green technology

CREATIVE CONCEPT: The Massey Movement INTRODUCING THE MASSEY MOVEMENT: We are an army of fighters. An army of doctors and scientists fighting against the status quo, an army of patients fighting the odds, an army of neighbors fighting for a better tomorrow. Our mission is simple: stop cancer in its tracks. Some say our mission is impossible, a worthy cause that can’t be won. But we don’t listen. We don’t listen to the naysayers. We listen to the heartbeats of those who looked cancer in the eye and won. We listen to the hopes and dreams of the fighters who dared to stare into the future and put cancer in the past. We listen to the first gasps of life born from bodies once riddled by cancer that became bodies of hope. We don’t back down because backing down would be accepting defeat; and mark our words: the only thing being defeated is cancer.

We are not a challenge that can be won.

We are Massey Cancer Center. This is our army. This is our fight. And this is our Movement.

We are a movement that will cure cancer together. We are The Massey Movement. AD: Anna Andreen CW: Emily Hovis ST: Sam Halle CBM: Michelle Darnell XD: Bryan Mortensen


SITUATION: To support its life-saving research, Massey Cancer Center relies heavily on its peer-to-peer development arm known as “The Massey Challenge.” CHALLENGE: Knowing its brand needed an update, the Massey Challenge team approached Brandcenter with the goal of growing this critical revenue stream from $500,000 raised in 2015’s campaign to $750,000 raised in 2016. KEY RESEARCH FINDINGS: • The Ask Paradox: 87% of fundraisers worry their friends and family will become annoyed by their annual requests, while only 17% of donors find it annoying. • Not all fundraisers fundraise: More than half of 2015 Massey Challengers were zero-dollar fundraisers. Many others fell short of their monetary goal. • People discount the value of small donations: Many donors mistakenly believe the amount they donate is correlated with how much they care. STRATEGY: The power of people, not dollars. Shift the peer-to-peer fundraising model away from the traditional focus of raising money to reach a monetary goal. Instead, challenge participants to recruit an army of cancer fighters.







RYAN WITCHER, Art Director




MERRY MAIDS AD: Matthew Terrell CW: Patrick Newman


Let us do the talking.


Let us do the talking. Let us do the talking.

SIRIUS XM AD: Ryan Arnett CW: Mike Stango


GORILLA ADJUSTABLE HOOPS AD: Ryan Witcher CW: Devin Altman SEADOO AD: Ryan Witcher CW: Scott Lucien






GREAT IDEAS MUST LIVE. Peter Coughter, Professor

You’ve got to get as good as you can possibly get at presenting.

Sell the idea of the creative first. Then,the creative.

It’s about money. If you sell your idea, that’s the one that has a chance to win awards, and I believe, perform effectively in the marketplace. So both the agency and the client will make more money. If you sell it the first time, you don’t have to spend the time necessary to “fix” it, so the agency saves money and you can still win awards and move product. And maybe most importantly for you, if you get a reputation as a great presenter, you will make more money. Most of the highest paid people in advertising are the best presenters. Look around. It’s true. Whatever your job description, we are in the business of selling our ideas. Plan on becoming the best presenter in your organization.

You’ve got to do ads for your ads. Understand that it just doesn’t matter how good the idea is unless you can persuade the person on the other side of the table to feel the same way. Whether that’s your CD, the client, a new business prospect or whomever. You’ve got to help them get it. You’ve spent God knows how long working on your idea, yet most agencies talk about how to present in the car on the way to the meeting. Take some time and figure out how to sell it. Give your idea a chance to live. The number one complaint of creatives is that they can’t get their best stuff produced. I wonder why? So much of what we do is subjective. I have one opinion, the guy down the hall has another one, and the client has yet another. If you believe in your idea (and if you don’t, you shouldn’t be presenting it) find a way to make your audience believe in it. You’re good at creating persuasive pieces of communication for your clients. Apply those skills to selling your work. You’ll have fun and sell more.

Your audience hasn’t been thinking about the problem you’ve solved nearly as long as you have. They just understand the problem. So you’ve got to get them to where you are in a logical way. You can use emotion, but you’ve got to sell them on the idea before you can sell them on the execution. Frame your argument in such a way that you eliminate possible solutions until the only solution possible is yours. Then show it.

Start with the end. Whether you’re presenting a concept with your partner to a client or going after new business, I think the most important thing is to develop a very clear understanding of what it is that we want out of the presentation. So, in planning the presentation, start with the end. Work your way back to the beginning from there, and all the crap that most agencies include, but won’t help them get what they want, will disappear. This doesn’t mean you start the presentation with the end. It means you start the planning with the end.

Tell them a story. The person with the best story wins. Every time. Not necessarily the “best” creative. So tell them a story. Start with something really interesting and be sure to have a powerful ending. People love endings. From the beginning, you must take them by the hand and walk them down the path of your story. When you get to the end, you win.


HERE’S HOW TO MAKE SURE THEY DO. Know your audience.

So make an important point, and shut up. Wait a beat, and make another important point. You don’t need to use all the available airtime.

The better you know your audience, the better chance you have to tell them a story that persuades them. So know who they are as people, what they like and don’t like, what they hold dear, what they believe in, what they are expecting from you and your team and what their capacity for courage is. I’m not saying you must give them what they like. I’m saying you must know what it is they like in order to sell them what they need.

Forget the fear. Everyone gets nervous. Everyone. If they say they don’t they’re either lying or a sociopath. The trick is to use the nerves to trigger adrenaline. Let them lift you up to a higher level. A better you. I have learned that your nervousness is never transmitted in the same proportion that you feel it. In my workshops people will say they were dying of nerves, but when the crowd is asked if the presenter seemed nervous they almost always seem surprised and say “no.” So forget about the nerves and get on with it. Most audiences don’t know what to think. If you appear to be confident and comfortable with what you are suggesting, they are likely to feel the same way.

It’s all about the audience. It’s not about you. Great presenters know that. They know their material and how they want to present it so well that all they’re thinking about is the audience. They are in such tune with the audience that they can adjust their presentation to what is going on in the room. They don’t have to stick to their “rehearsed pitch,” they go where they have to go to get what they want. And that may not be in the script.

Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. Know it cold. And not just your part. Everyone’s part. But don’t memorize. Know it. The appearance of spontaneity is the product of rehearsal.

Presenting can be learned.

Audiences tend to mirror the emotions we express.

Bill Bernach said, “Advertising is fundamentally persuasion and persuasion happens to be not a science, but an art.”

Leave plenty of white space.

This is a skill that you can develop. But you must work at it.

You don’t use up all the available space in your work. The white space is important. It’s the same with presenting. What you leave out is just as important as what you leave in. Don’t be afraid of silence. Silence is your friend.  People tend to remember the last thing you say before you become silent.

You didn’t get as good as you are at your craft by just showing up. It’s the same with presenting. There is much more to say about techniques and tips, but let’s leave it at this: Tell the truth. Your truth. Commit to it.  And do it.


Creative Thinking Class Assignment: Self Portrait


Mark Fenske, professor 134

1st years vs. 2nd years


TEAM brandcenter


(intramural sports champions)





CULTURE professor

CREATIVE professor







CREATIVE professor


CREATIVE professor



STRATEGY professor


and staff













Professor Andrew LeVesseur

What is the nature of the problem you aspire to solve? Not all problems are created equal. Some are little. Some are big. Some are simple. Some are complex. Some are trivial. Some are critical. Some are deeply personal. Some safely removed. Some are fleeting. Some are permanent. Some are symptomatic. Some are root. Some will require evolution. Some will require revolution. Your time is limited. Your energy infinite. Your talent a gift.



alumni innovations

Skillshare is a global learning community for creators. With over 2500 classes and one million students worldwide, Skillshare empowers creators to do the work they love today by teaching them the skills they need in tomorrow world. Many Skillshare classes are taught by leaders in their fields. You can take a lettering lesson with Jessica Hirsche, who’s working on the opening sequences of Wes Anderson movies, a marketing class with bestselling author Seth Godin, and learn to make the perfect cup of coffee from Blue Bottle Caffee’s barista-in-chief. Mike Karnjanaprakorn (ST, 2006)

WETSOX gets you in and out of your cold water gear quickly and easily, wet or dry, while eliminating unnecessary wear and tear on your equipment. So you can spend more time in the water and less time wriggling in and out of your wetsuit. Bryan Marville (ST, 2008) Patrick Lorentz (ST, 2008)


Hackaball is a smart, responsive, (and, most importantly, fun!) ball kids can program to invent and play their own games. It encourages kids to learn about technology, play together and be physically active. TIME magazine named Hackaball one of the top inventions of 2015. Rachel Mercer (XD, 2012)

Dustin’s Words is a device designed to give people who can’t communicate the power to express their needs at the push of a button. Thanks to the device Matt built, his autistic brother Dustin can now tell his mom when he has a headache, when he’s hungry or when he simply wants to say “I love you.” Dustin’s Words is customizable, affordable and life changing. Matt Reamer (XD, 2014) Donnie Plumly (XD, 2014) Mary Toves (XD, 2011)


Joel and Lauren Gryniewski are Brandcenter alums from the class of 2005. They own a greeting card company called Old Tom Foolery, specializing in sarcastic, witty, well-designed cards. They asked the students to help write copy for their newest greeting card line. The back of the card will say “An Old Tom Foolery + VCU Brandcenter tag team.�



vcu brandcenter

In Praise of Brick and Mortar in an Ever-Increasing Online World

Almost anything that was previously done offline can now be done online. Want to find romance? Swipe right. Need some toilet paper? Add to cart. Wonder if anyone else is allergic to graham crackers? Your Facebook friends will let you know.

walls, is something that can’t be saved to the cloud. It’s a creative, collaborative culture that has evolved over the 20 years of our existence. An endeavor that requires real, hands-on, face to face human interaction. Yes, there are many online courses that offer virtual classrooms, e-communities, real time lectures and interaction with other online students and professors. It’s not all faceless and isolated. But who will have fond memories of getting an emailed answer to a question from an online educator she or he has never met?

It seems the answers to all of your needs, hopes and dreams can now be found in a click. Or can it? Education, for example, has dipped way more than a toe in the turbulent seas of online learning. But is education entering the fray because it can or because it should?

It’s being able to meet, face to face, not face to screen, with each other and with the professionals dedicated to inspiring you to become your best.

Google “Online classes” and you’ll get 860,000,000 results ranging from MOOCs (massive open online courses) to online certificates and degrees from Harvard, MIT, USC, Virginia Tech, et al. So what’s up with Brandcenter? Why didn’t we immediately embrace e-learning? Simply because not all learning is codeable. To be fair, there are some definite advantages to online learning, so Brandcenter is certainly exploring the possibilities. BUT (and I capitalized “but” because it is a very big “but”) they go back a few pages to my introduction. Meaning it’s the Brandcenter experience that makes us special.

Even our building was designed to inspire creativity and collaboration where students can look over each other’s shoulders and share what they’re working on, or hang out with a professor on a break to discuss life and learn from their experiences. How many landing pages can enable that? Instead, Brandcenter allows students to do in real time what hasn’t yet been replicated online: serendipitous encounters that begin conversations that spark original, creative solutions. Finally, the real point of difference, at least the way things stand at this juncture, is this: an online class is something you take. The VCU Brandcenter experience is something you make.

What we have here, within these mostly brick and mortar

Helayne Spivak, Director



student index COPYWRITING


Devin Altman, Larissa Cole, Charlie Curnow, Scott Dobbin, Kevin Fitz, Emily Hovis, Scott Lucien, Scott Minniear, Patrick Newman, Jon Northrop, Sean O’Connor, Jacob Pankey, Prit Patel, Stephen Shocket, Michelle Smith, Mike Stango, Katie Tiambeng, Ray Tolbert, Sarah Westerfield, Grace Xie,

Anna Andreen, Allison Apperson, Ryan Arnett, Mario Bibian, Sara Carr, Lindsay Cecero, Jean Feroldi, Lily Fu, Alex Haase, Jonathan Hirsch, Alexis Kafkis, Logan Kornhauser, Shelby Lemons, Liz Malenfant, Tori McGoogan, Boris Opacic, Roxie Reeves, Rachel Sheeran, Shannon Smith, Yelena Sophia, Matthew Terrell, Ryan Witcher, Anne Marie Wonder, Rachel Wyse,



Olivia Reid Cooper, Pete Davies, Christina Foy, Karl Giles, Carl Joseph, Heather Keller, Bryan Mortensen, Dan Owen, Emily Caitlin Reese, Brandi Thompson, Mikaila Weaver, Qin Yang,

STRATEGY Cary Arberg, Sean Banks, Mackenzie Beer, Kyle Calkins, Christian Clay, Greg Donnelly, Nitin Dua, Steven Ebert, Natalia Estrada, Miranda Germano, Claire Glisson, Patrick Grayhack,

Samantha Halle, Caitlin Hines, Will Jenkins, Caitlin Kearney, Anthony Kondeati, Rebecca McNerney, Erik Osburn, Prateek Patnaik, Chane Rennie, Michelle Spigner, Noel van Aartrijk,

CREATIVE BRAND MANAGEMENT Juliana Clark, Luisa Contaifer, Michelle Darnell, Will Espinoza, Basil Frye, Stacey Garrett, Jacob Huber, Nic Johnson, Nima Khalilian, Khuyen Le, Daren Lifferth, Perry Lowder, Amanda McGowan, Jahan Nargolwala, Whitney Paul, Sta’sean Ridley, Adeel Shams, Emily Smith, Ashley Stanfield, Kate Stewart, Alexander Whitman, Danielle Young,



Sixty Volume 19  
Sixty Volume 19