Flashback to May 4, 2018; the day of the College of Arts and Communications 2018 commencement ceremony. While most soon-to-be graduates were curling their hair or ironing their slacks, three students in the Department of Advertising and Public Relations were preparing for their graduation day in a different way. These young entrepreneurs were signing legal documents that would officially open Lansing, Michigan’s newest, and youngest, advertising agency, CiesaBlend.
The company is comprised of those three fresh alumni, Parker Sessa, Craig Hedges and Amanda McCafferty, as well as a local business owner and designer, Lauren Ciesa. Two MSU Advertising professors, Ross Chowles and Greg Taucher, also work closely with the team as mentors. This mix of people creates the perfect “blend” of experience and spirit within the agency.
While it’s not uncommon for advertising professionals to start their own agency, it’s an opportunity that more often rises later in a professional’s career. Lack of industry experience isn’t stopping the young ComArtSci alumni at CiesaBlend though. Since its establishment in May of 2018, CiesaBlend has worked with a number of clients from nonprofits and foundations to corporations and family-operated businesses. Their most recognizable campaign is perhaps their, “Kids Love the Zoo” campaign for Potter Park Zoo, which launched in July of 2018.
“Our Kids Love the Zoo campaign was the first campaign our team worked on together,” said Creative Lead of Art Craig Hedges. “I mean, we concepted and pitched that idea within weeks of starting our company, and now we’re in phase two of the campaign, which is set to launch in May of 2019. It’s all happening so quickly, but we couldn’t be more excited.”
The Blenders, as they call themselves, have even expanded their reach beyond state lines. Their most recent client, Romeo’s Pizza, is an award-winning pizza company headquartered in Medina, Ohio.
“Landing the Romeo’s account was a big vote of confidence in CiesaBlend,” said Account Lead Parker Sessa. “I think some of our biggest challenges lie in the fact that we’re very young and some clients could view that as also being inexperienced. However, the leadership and guidance of Lauren, Ross and Greg, allows us to have a new, fresh perspective on messaging, so I think Romeo’s recognized that our biggest challenge is also our biggest asset.”
The team noted the scope of work for clients can range from social media content all the way to full integrated campaigns, but one thing remains the same: storytelling.
“Every day is a new adventure with new obstacles,” said Creative Leader of Copy Amanda McCafferty. “We have to be flexible enough in today’s market to adapt to the client’s needs. But throughout it all, we know at our core we are storytellers. That’s what we’re here to do: tell your brand’s story and tell it in a way that a consumer can look at your brand and feel some sort of emotional connection to it.”
As the three ComArtSci alumni and their business grow, they hope to create impactful and insightful work. The knowledge they gained from their time at ComArtSci will blend with their year of industry experience and the wisdom of the ComArtSci professors mentoring them to create work that disrupts the advertising industry’s view of traditional messaging. CiesaBlend is making waves and not slowing down anytime soon.
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By Marlee Talbot & Ross Chowles