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Intellect

BYU’s AdLab claims top spot in two national competitions this month

In addition to being one of the top programs in the country, BYU’s advertising department fosters an environment to talk about important issues.

BYU AdLab

What if you were able to work on real-life projects for global brands such as Amazon, Gatorade, Nike and Spotify as a student?

Students who work in BYU’s AdLab, a professionally mentored, student-led advertising agency, do just that. Oh, and they are also pretty good at winning awards. Like Emmy-award winning good.

Earlier this month, one recent project from the team became the latest to win the Emmy for Commercial, PSA, or Promo from the College Television Awards. The commercial tells the story of a father and son who reconcile their relationship when the father accepts his son for who he is rather than what he wants his son to be.

"Miguel" also won the 2019 National Best of Show at the AAF Student American Advertising Awards (ADDY), the advertising industry's largest competition.

A big reason why the students and faculty in this lab are so successful is their ability to be in sync with the advertising industry and its trends. Most recently, they have embraced the new model of brand storytelling through social advocacy.

To do that, professors and advisors encourage students to tap into their personal backgrounds, areas of interest and passion to help brainstorm the next project.

For former student Enoch Lui, he borrowed from the life lessons he learned from his father, who immigrated to the United States from Tonga, and the heartache and challenges from the people he met in Guatemala when serving as a full-time missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—people who would try to move to a new country to forge a better life for their families.

Lui and others combined their unique experiences and diversity of thought to write, create, direct and film a different award-winning campaign that focuses not just on the refugee crisis in the United States but also on the need to consider how we will treat our fellow human beings, regardless of their race or skin color.

That commercial just claimed the 2020 National Best of Show at the AAF Student ADDY on June 26. It portrays a family who is placed in the middle of the refugee crisis in America and the tough choices that sometimes need to be made.

“What we are trying to do at BYU in our ad program is prepare the future creative industry to not only make the most powerful messages that win the most awards, but to make the messages that matter and can help alleviate and heal the human condition,” said Jeff Sheets, a BYU advertising professor and faculty advisor to the AdLab.

AdLab shoot
Members of the AdLab on set for the filming of the immigration commercial. Pictures from L to R: Benji Allred, Enoch Lui, Connor Dean, Kevin Kelly, Taylor Galbraith, Mikaela Kester.

“I think our professors do a really great job of helping us cultivate ideas that are bigger and really say something important,” said Connor Dean, another recent graduate and producer and co-writer on the immigration spot. “As students, our professors really encourage us to make things that speak to us personally or that we are passionate about.”

Scott James, a former student who works for an advertising agency in San Francisco, believes part of the reason for tackling these important topics is to prove to potential employers that the students are prepared to make work that resonates with people but remains “on-brand,” as each brand or agency that has its own voice and position on issues.

“Students at BYU need to keep pushing the boundaries of storytelling while keeping in the same tone the brand is already using, otherwise it will come off as inauthentic.” James said.

To learn more about the AdLab and the advertising program at BYU, visit https://comms.byu.edu/byu-student-labs/adlab/.

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