Advertising students compete for Adobe campaign
It’s Monday morning in the middle of March, and there’s barely a soul in Franklin Hall. But in room 312, a group of four, masked students chat excitedly about an advertising project they’re working on. Across the room, another group does the very same thing.
The class is professor of practice William Schwab’s Advertising Portfolio Workshop II, and the assignment is to create an advertising campaign for the multinational computer software company Adobe, specifically for the application Adobe Stock. The stakes are high: Create a campaign that the Adobe team likes and get the chance to showcase your work on all of IU’s nine campuses for hundreds of thousands of students to see. No pressure at all.
The class is divided into two teams, each researching and developing their own campaigns. At the end of the semester, they’ll present their campaigns virtually to Adobe executives. Adobe will choose one campaign to execute.
Schwab discovered this project while searching for stock art sources that his students could use for assignments.
“By contacting various people at IU, I eventually wound up with the University Information Technology Services, who let me know that in addition to Adobe Creative Cloud technology, we now have a new Adobe Stock feature, available to students, faculty and staff,” he said.
Just a few weeks prior, IU had renewed its contract with Adobe, which included access to Adobe Stock — a new addition to the Adobe Creative Cloud Suite that IU students and faculty can access free of charge. Adobe Stock provides over 200 million stock photos, images, illustrations, vectors and video clips.
“Several staff within UITS were working with Adobe at the time to strategize how we would actually go about promoting this new and exciting element of our Adobe agreement. It was perfect timing to connect and collaborate,” said Adam Maksl, a UITS faculty fellow. “We immediately set up some calls with Bill, several UITS staff involved in helping to promote the use of Adobe tools and our partners at Adobe to discuss how we could support Bill and his students’ work.”
This project is particularly meaningful to students who are about to graduate and enter the workforce, because it’s a real-life problem, Schwab said.
“Adobe is obviously a real-life client with real needs and in this case, their needs are to communicate the benefits of Adobe Stock to the IU community and particularly to undergraduate students in all of the schools at all of the campuses of IU,” he said.
First, the Adobe team met with the students via Zoom and told the class what they wanted their ads to focus on. This was called a “brief,” where the groups determined their target audience, objective and tagline.
The groups then tried to find the client’s problem.
Each group created hundreds of roughs, or rough drafts, which included headline ideas, taglines and images. The groups chose the most impactful ones to show to the Adobe representatives during a “tissue session,” and the Adobe reps provided feedback.
Now, groups are making “comps” using Adobe applications such as Photoshop and Illustrator to make their advertisements come to life. Comps are created for different deliverables, such as bus wraps, social media ads, magazines, posters and billboards.
“One of the big things we’ve learned in this is that you want consistency,” said senior Noah Nash. “If you were to see a bus ad versus an Instagram ad, you want someone to be able to look at that Instagram ad and say, ‘Oh my gosh, this is the exact same thing that I saw on that bus that was going around campus the other day.’ So we’re going to be making different ads, and they are going to have different images, but the themes and taglines and headlines will be very similar to one another.”
Each group was given the same mission and objective from Adobe. But with two teams come two different strategies.
For senior Erin Barrett’s group, it’s about focusing on “how effortless Adobe Stock can be once you get started,” she said. “A creative idea that we have focused heavily on is procrastination. Our goal was to relate to nearly every single college student that finds themselves waiting until the last minute to complete their assignments.”
They didn’t have to look far for their inspiration.
“We were inspired to focus on this concept because it is something that, as college students, we know other students can relate to,” teammate Eric Burton, a senior, said. “Adobe can cut your work time in half, and that is something every student would be interested in, so that is what we put at the heart of our campaign.”
While Barrett and Burton’s team focuses on how a user can utilize Adobe Stock to elevate their work to a professional level, the second team highlights specific assets of the platform.
“My group specifically decided to focus on how Adobe Stock makes you exceptional and stands out above all other students and competition and IU,” said senior Elliana Levi. “Especially now that we’re all seniors, it’s kind of coming down to the wire on knowing how to make ourselves look better than everyone else.”
They would like their campaign to also act as a reminder to not wait to download the free software that IU offers to its students.
“Another one of our goals is just familiarizing Creative Cloud with all of IU, so that the students know from day one when they come to IU, you have access to a bunch of really incredible programs,” said senior Katherine Homer.
With such a hands-on assignment, the students have to work using a hands-off approach due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Luckily, the class is able to meet in person twice a week, with students grouped six feet apart from one another, masked at all times.
“What we have to learn to do is not feel limited by the things that COVID brings into our lives, but understand how to work with them and even find some advantages that we didn’t have before,” Schwab said.
An example of this is the opportunity for the students to present their final campaigns to the Adobe team, live via Zoom.
“In the past, I think it would have been very difficult to bring in the Adobe clients for instance, who are located in three parts of the United States plus Canada, into IU for a meeting with our students to present their work,” Schwab said.
The presentation will help students learn how to present and sell their campaign in a persuasive and professional way. Students will also be able to include this project in their portfolios.
“It’s more than just a class — it’s like an actual experience,” Nash said. “I really like to create, and I always have. I wanted to do something that hit the creative side and the business side, and I wasn’t really sure what that was until I took Professor Schwab’s class.”