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Advertising Graduates' Video Wins a Chance to Compete Internationally

As one of two winners in the 48hr YouTube Cannes Young Lions Advertising Competition, Academy of Art University graduate Rachel Wolak will fly to Cannes to compete in the international Cannes Young Lions Advertising Competition.

This year, the 48hr YouTube Cannes Competition challenged young creatives in advertising schools and agencies to write, film, and edit a short video for WaterAid in just 48 hours. Once the video was complete, participants had just one week to make the ad go viral in any way possible. A panel of advertising industry experts then chose two top winners, based on the videos and the votes of the public.

Rachel Wolak - For Dennis Video Still
Still from "For Dennis"

Rachel's video For Dennis, created in collaboration with Advertising grad Jaffar Sabet, tackled the issue of water scarcity by examining the effect that the lack of access to clean water has on the homeless population in the United States. Rachel and Jaffar found Dennis, who became the center of their ad, on the street in San Francisco.

"When we found Dennis on the street, he hadn't had a shower in weeks. He didn't know when or where he would get to bathe again or go to the bathroom," Wolak said. "We then rented him a hotel room, bought him a clean shirt, socks and toiletries and let him do his thing while we documented his experience and thoughts."

The resulting ad is a powerful call-to-action for those who take access to clean water for granted, encouraging them help those who are less fortunate. To promote the ad, Rachel and Jaffar released it on their website and YouTube. They then posted the video to their Twitter feed, Facebook page and blogs. A few larger websites, such as The World's Best Ever and the Denver Egoist, also highlighted their work, pushing it to success with voters.

As the art director for the winning video, Rachel will now fly to France to compete in the Cannes Young Lions Advertising Competition. She will join the copywriter of the other winning ad to form Team YouTube, one of 40 teams from advertising schools and agencies that will compete internationally.

Rachel decided to study advertising when she was inspired by an unusual slogan for a piercing shop on the New Jersey boardwalk. Impressed by the creative work that School of Advertising graduates produced, Rachel chose Academy of Art University, one of the top art schools in the nation.

Currently, Rachel is working as an Interactive Art Director at Crispin Porter Bogusky, Advertising Age magazine's pick for Agency of the Decade in 2009. The instructors of her advertising classes Rachel had at the Academy have had a profound impact on her work and the way she presents it.

In particular, she remembers Michael Holmes, who taught Public Speaking. "The point was that as an artist, whether it's a painting or an idea you've created, you are the closest person to your hard work, so you had better be able to talk about it," she said. She took that idea from her advertising classes to heart in promoting her award-winning video.

Academy of Art University wishes Rachel the best of luck in Cannes and beyond!

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