The Gold Standard: Students Sweep Design Awards, Win 14 Gold ADDYs

Grant Carl Dehner poses with fellow award winners and friends at the 2020 Mid-Michigan ADDY Awards.

Michigan State University Students Win Awards Across Categories at 2020 Mid-Michigan ADDYs

Michigan State University won 93 awards at the 2020 ADDYs for the Mid-Michigan region, with students and alumni garnering gold awards and other honors in the largest and most recognized competition in the U.S. advertising industry.

From the College of Communication Arts and Sciences, students took home 14 gold awards, 26 silver awards and 19 bronze awards. The number of honors won by the creative students at ComArtSci numbered 59 awards, in all.

MSU student Grant Carl Dehner received a gold award in the category of film, video and sound for his work on a TV advertisement called “Our Voices.” He also received Best of Show at the regional awards ceremony. The video brought students of diverse walks of life together to share personal struggles that they work to overcome and how they find belonging at Michigan State University.

“I was happy with the final project,” said Dehner. “It was up to my standard. I don’t put out any work that I’m not proud to have my name on, and I was really proud to put my name on that work, but to have other people say that it was also good work is just a whole different ball game. It just feels unreal.”

Dehner created the video as part of a class challenge to link people who don’t appear to have much in common. He said the message of the video harkens back to something he learned a long time ago.

“As a kid, I had learned that everyone struggles with something,” said Dehner. “Just because someone might have what seems like a lesser struggle doesn’t mean it’s easier for them to go through. I wanted to tap into the universal role of struggle, and show that it is universal and that pain and overcoming it can really bring people together like nothing else.”

The weekend before the ADDY Awards, Dehner participated in a strategy slam at ComArtSci, where students teamed up to form a strategic solution to a business problem, in response to a creative brief. A junior in creative advertising, Dehner worked with a team to identify what is unique about the experience of studying at ComArtSci.

“Freedom. The network here and the freedom to really create and try something new is unparalleled,” said Dehner.

That sense of freedom was experienced in the course on commercial and media production taught by AD+PR Professor of Practice Maral Zakharia. For the final project, students not only had to develop a concept for a creative video, but they were also challenged to produce the video from start to finish, managing everything from the set design and lighting to the art direction and film production.

“The difference between ComArtSci and other colleges at Michigan State is that ComArtSci provides freedoms, in a lot of different ways,” said Dehner. “There are freedoms in different resources, in different trips that students take, in our professors that are just a wealth of knowledge — and everything they say to me is just like scripture — and also freedom to really do what we feel passionate about.”

Dehner is also among the many students who will have the opportunity to travel to Los Angeles in May, where he will tour creative agencies and network with Spartan alumni as part of a ComArtSci Field Experience.

ComArtSci was well-represented at the awards ceremony, with a popular professor taking the main stage. Organizers welcomed Karl Gude, who retired from his position as Professor of Practice in the School of Journalism and Director of Media Sandbox in December, to host the celebration. The college’s Office of Communication also claimed two bronze ADDY Awards, receiving recognition for their work in film, as well as interactive digital communications with the newsletter, ComArtSci Today.

By Melissa Priebe

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