Positively Richmond: Big ads for local grads

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Professor Peter Coughter’s Persuasion class is in session at the VCU Brandcenter. It puts the skills of students like Stephen Shocket to the test.

“It became clear that if I wanted to be in advertising as a creative this is where I needed to go,” Shocket, who is from Raleigh, says about enrolling at the Brandcenter.

One reason that attracts advertising hopefuls from everywhere is the Brandcenter’s relationship with the Super Bowl.

Between 2013 and 2015, graduates had a hand in 29 spots. Some featured even earlier came from creative minds molded at the Richmond school too: 2011’s Little Darth Vader for Volkswagen and the return of the Coke Polar Bears in 2012 are just two memorable ones.

“Super Bowl is one of the last bastions of who cares about advertising,” Brandcenter Director Helayne Spivak chuckles.

She says everything from the Brandcenter’s curriculum to the faculty to the actual building is designed to develop creative problem solvers.

“It’s how you think and how you make new connections that keep things fresh and original and that’s what we do,” explains Spivak. “We encourage all new original connections between right brain and left brain.”

Spivak says she worked in advertising for three decades before getting a spot during the famed Super Bowl, but now she is proud to see the work of her students there within a year of their graduation.

“They’re just so talented and so creative, and I think that’s why they’re pushed forward and why their work is pushed forward.”

Back inside Professor Coughter’s class, students are looking forward to watching their friends’ hard work on Sunday.

“It’s a big ad holiday. It’s the biggest day for our industry,” says Shocket. “That could be me in a year. Awesome.”

This year Brandcenter graduates will debut their spots for Paypal, Priceline, Pokemon, Bai, Pantene, TurboTax, Audi and Marmot. One for Jack in the Box will also air regionally along the West Coast.

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