Story by Aaron Weintraub
In May, just over 100 advertising students left Eugene for the UO School of Journalism and Communication’s annual NYC Experience Creative Week trip. The trip is intended to give advertising students an immersive learning and networking experience in the heart of the industry. They visit major national and international advertising agencies, network with potential employers, get professional advice and develop their portfolios and resumes.
For two advertising students, Caleb Couturie and Stacy Yurisheva, the experience turned out to be a major stepping stone in their careers. The duo won the One Contest for Art and Copy at the annual Creative Week awards hosted by The One Club, an organization that promotes and recognizes cutting-edge advertising. Couturie and Yurisheva applied to compete in the organization’s Young One’s competition, which is specifically for college advertising students.
The student team’s winning idea was a campaign for TOMS Shoes. “They presented us with a brief that said: ‘Use the TOMS one-for-one business model to promote more peace and equality,’” Couturie said. The company’s one-for-one model provides a free pair of shoes to a third-world community for every pair bought in a more economically stable one.
The TOMS shoe company had recently announced a new line of shoes, clothes and accessories called The 79. The fashion line is designed by up-and-coming female artists and sold at 70 percent of their retail value — a nod to the average pay gap between men and women in the workplace.
The aesthetics surrounding Couturie and Yurisheva’s campaign were inspired in part by the Women’s March and the building sentiment that led to it in January. Their advertisements featured loud house music, a bold font and gifs of outspoken celebrity women. Along with these ads, the team compiled a 110-slide presentation detailing the issues at hand, their plan and the short- and long-term goals that such a plan would attempt to accomplish. Their campaign combined TOMS’ one-for-one exchange with the pay-gap theme to create the “100% Effort Deserves 100% Reward.”
“We had a whole strategy,” Yurisheva said. “We had even the financial hit. We had everything figured out. It took us like five months to do it.”
Couturie credits Carolyn S. Chambers Distinguished Professor of Advertising Deborah Morrison and the SOJC’s advertising department for their inspiration and support. “Our professor, Deborah Morrison, urged an entire class of what are called ‘creatives’ in the ad school to apply,” he said. “I was looking to get more work in my portfolio, and this looked like an interesting opportunity because I've always loved the TOM’s brand, so I thought it’d be fun to take a whack at it.
“I found Stacy … on the Facebook group of people that Deb considered creatives,” he said. “I had this idea and I was willing to share it with anyone. She was literally the only person who said, ‘I love your idea.’“
Couturie and Yurisheva also asked for and received advice and help from SOJC advertising faculty. “All the professors, like Tom Dano and Deb and Dave Brando, had advice to give,” said Yurisheva. “We would show them what we thought and they would critique us, and we would go back and fix it.”
Couturie also expressed appreciation to the One Club for providing the opportunity. “I don't know if the idea comes without the contest,” he said. “I knew that I wanted to work on a social justice project because I haven't really found a brand that would make sense for me. It's really hard to like come from a corporate voice and say, ‘Hey, we care.’”
The win came as a huge surprise to Yurisheva. “We didn't even go to the awards ceremony because it was like $50 or $60 for a ticket,” she said. “Why would we pay that much money if we don't win it? But one of our students [who did go] texted Deb Morrison and me saying, ‘You guys won, congrats!’ At first I thought it was a joke.“
While they were in New York, both Yurisheva and Couturie enjoyed productive meetings with numerous firms in the city. While Couturie has at least a term left before graduation, he is already interested in applying at some of the firms.
“There’s a little agency in New York called SS&K that I really hadn't heard of until actually a couple of friends of mine got internships in the summer, and I was just blown away by them,” Couturie said. “They make great work. What amazed me is that it was so small, really only like 50 or 75 people.”
Yurisheva, meanwhile, has just accepted a position at J. Walter Thompson as an art director. The firm was one of the many that was impressed with her work on the Young One’s competition.
Aaron Weintraub, BA ’17, recently graduated from the SOJC with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and Arabic, which he hopes to use as a foreign correspondent in the Middle East. This was his first year working as a digital media intern for the SOJC’s Communications Office. In the past, he studied Arabic and Islamic studies in Keble College at Oxford University and at the Qasid Institute in Amman, Jordan, where he worked as an independent feature writer during the summer of 2016. He has also served as a writer and photographer for the UO’s environmental publication, Envision Magazine. You can find Weintraub’s collection of photography, much of which he took while traveling, at aaronweintraubphotos.wordpress.com. When he’s not writing or shooting photos, he enjoys climbing, biking and other activities that occasionally injure him.