Minds Wide Open Comes to a Close

Advertising students, faculty and professionals from all over the world came together for the third annual Minds Wide Open. The international competition was an intensive, experiential learning event spanning just one week.

Individuals came from as far as China, Spain, South Africa, Mexico and Germany to work with MSU students on a branding campaign for the start-up app called Hoobie. Advertising Professor of Practice Henry Brimmer hosts the event every year in hopes of making MSU an international stand-out.

“The goal of our department is to become a player in the international arena, creatively,” said Brimmer. “We’re well-known and established in research. We want to make a statement creatively, also.”

Bringing Home the Gold

Students from MSU and across the globe were grouped into 12 teams of six-eight. Each team was also paired with mentors from top agencies worldwide. Team 10, self-named Apero, was awarded the gold for their campaign Hoobie “gangships,” complete with three comical videos. They were followed by Seven Lamps in second place and The Hive in third. The three winning teams were separated by only seven points.

“I think that what Apero did was they told a strong story with their videos, something we could relate to, was funny and was well-executed,” said Brimmer.

Today, branding is about more than a logo and color scheme. It’s about creating an experience, a narrative, a story. And that’s exactly what Apero managed to do. They honed in on the idea that no matter how different people are, we can all find connections.

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The winning team worked two 17-hour-days in a row and had a family-style dinner around a table every night, putting the work aside temporarily to talk about life and culture. It was perhaps this interconnectedness that allowed the team to pull off their idea cohesively.

“That’s really what the overall message was, that within this app they could have groups where you could be yourself and stop being the fake you you have to pretend you’re like,” said Ross Chowles, a professor of practice at ComArtSci as well as one of Apero’s mentors. “I think that’s the problem with social media - you find that people are starting to feel like it’s too much pressure and it’s not rewarding. We all have issues, we’re all weird. The dilemma is that we only show the norm. But as soon as you know you’re not alone, it’s great for your mental health.”  

Making a Creative Statement

Advertising senior Parker Sessa, the only ComArtSci student in Apero, said that the event allowed him to narrow down what he’s looking for in a professional atmosphere.

“Being able to work with incredibly talented people from across the globe is now a top priority for me as a soon-to-be graduate,” said Sessa. “My team was so talented in many different ways and I now truly see how the people you work with can make all the difference in the world. I feel like I also got to see into the minds of the mentors and get a taste of what their every day in advertising looked like. I made so many great connections throughout the week.”

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Mentor and alumnus Lukas Miller wishes the event had been available in 2013. During his time as an advertising student, he exhausted himself with clubs, internships and personal projects to get out-of-the-classroom experiences.

“But none can hold a candle to the value of Minds Wide Open, which provides the insight and practice of the first six months of an ad agency in a single week,” said Miller. “Not only is it valuable for the students, it puts MSU on the map as a heavyweight in creative training - the leadership at my agency was very impressed with the event and the student output.”

Moving Forward as a Team

Jordan Greenfield, Hoobie’s founder, was so impressed by the energy that he saw as students worked through the challenge, that he wants to keep the collaboration going.

“We are now exploring a way of continuing to keep the students involved,” said Greenfield. “We’re trying to get creative and see how we can either get some of those students to work with us for a period of time or potentially raising some money to see if we have room to bring some of them on board as well. It’s exciting.”

During Minds Wide Open, students and mentors came together with different ideas, backgrounds and nationalities, creating what Dean David called a United Nations within our walls. It seems as though this international collaboration left an impact on all those involved, including the client.

“I left Michigan State feeling more optimistic about our future leaders than ever before,” said Greenfield in a statement. “I can now say with certainty that every company would benefit immensely from the magic these students and mentors were able to create. The collective approach of this event is as powerful as any I have seen before.”

By Kaitlin Dudlets