Many advertising students dream of marching off stage at graduation and straight into a career with Doner. For alumnus Jacques Chouinard ’17, that dream became a reality. He’s now a junior copywriter at the agency’s Southfield headquarters, which he describes as “a three-story building filled with some really great creative minds.”
Chouinard himself was recognized for his creative mind recently at the 2018 Mid-Michigan ADDY Awards, where he picked up some major hardware. He collected a Best in Show, a Judge’s Choice, two gold ADDYs, four silver and one bronze.
From Internship to Employment
Just a month after Chouinard earned his Advertising degree, he was brought on to the Doner team as a copywriting intern, where he made it his personal goal to soak up as much experience and information as he possibly could. As his internship was coming to a close, the agency offered him an extension for another three months, after which Chouinard was brought on as a full-time copywriter.
“The internship was key to getting my foot in the door,” said Chouinard. “After that, it was all about proving my worth.”
The internship provided Chouinard the opportunity to produce work for a multitude of brands from Doner’s diverse client roster. He wrote copy for everything from print to TV, and came across JBL early on, a brand that he felt matched his own tone of voice.
“I’ve been writing copy and coming up with wild ideas for the brand since,” said Chouinard. “I’m loving it.”
Building a Winning Portfolio
Before he could secure such a competitive internship, Chouinard was making major moves as a ComArtSci student. Though he wasn’t a part of student clubs or organizations, he was frequently finding ways to exercise his creative skills.
“What I did instead was work with a lot of really talented students outside of class to develop speculative work to build my portfolio, something that really helped me out down the line,” said Chouinard.
In addition to class projects, this extracurricular group work led to many of his ideas for the mock campaigns that won him nine awards at this year’s ADDYs. He created print ads for WD-40, Amtrak and Red Lobster, as well as an installation for WeChat and a multimodal campaign for Chase Bank. His awards came from a variety of different categories, from copywriting and magazine advertising to single event/installation/experiential. It’s clear that Chouinard is a copywriter with a unique vision for the advertising space.
“I think it’s vital for any creative to stay up-to-date on trends in the industry — and outside it — as well as continuing to hone your craft,” said Chouinard. “I noticed I’ve developed more as a creative since I graduated by doing this.”
Advice for Beginners
As a successful copywriter working at one of the most renowned advertising agencies in the country, Chouinard has some experience that directly translates into advice for current students.
“Never stop working on your portfolio,” said Chouinard. “If you’re a creative and you don’t have a portfolio website, make one right now. Stop looking at this and go build one. I can’t stress enough how important it is to develop a solid portfolio early on.”
Part of building a solid portfolio is taking advantage of every creative opportunity that’s presented to you as a student. Chouinard took part in the NYC Field Experience Trip, during which he met MSU alumni at some of the top agencies in the business and had his portfolio looked over by industry leaders. In addition, Ross Chowles’ portfolio workshop allowed him to collaborate with other talented advertising students. He even participated in Minds Wide Open, which he believes is an amazing opportunity for students.
“I’ll always look back on it as the moment I realized I was going to love a career on the creative side of advertising,” said Chouinard. “I think these three programs really differentiate MSU’s ComArtSci college from the rest.”
By Kaitlin Dudlets