TAI Alum (’11) Jenny Lanier has had a very successful career since her graduation from SMU. In her three years as an Art Director at Moroch, Lanier accomplished a lot, working with clients like McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, and Mattress Giant. Recently, Lanier was featured in the 2016 Communications Arts Advertising Annual.
“I was featured in the Communications Arts Advertising Annual for a billboard for McDonald’s,” Lanier said. “The assignment was to push $1 beverages in markets during the summer. Our client wanted something more special. My team and I thought it would be interesting to have a temperature gauge on the billboard to say that each degree of heat is just another reason to grab a drink at McDonald’s.”
To be featured in the Communications Arts Advertising Annual is a very special honor for former advertising students. TAI Creative Advertising Professor Mark Allen, also Lanier’s former professor, refers to it as “the golden ring” for creatives.
“It’s special [to me] because it was a publication I frequently referred to as a student,” Lanier said. “CA Annuals were required books for all of our advertising classes. I remember we would go through and flag the campaigns that resonated with us – ones that we wish we had thought of. To think a student might do that with the project I worked on makes me smile.”
This year, Lanier and her team at Moroch won a gold ADDY in the OOH & Ambient category for their McDonald’s “Refresh” campaign. Lanier also won a silver ADDY in 2014 for an Interactive Web Banner for McDonald’s called “Up and At ‘Em.”
“Everyone loves to be told ‘good job,’ especially when you work really hard,” Lanier said. “These awards are just a little pat on the back that let you know you’re on the right track. I was always proud of my peers for getting published or winning awards. It feels good to experience those honors firsthand.”
Lanier attributes a lot of her career success to her time in the creative department at TAI, from the student and faculty connections she made to the practical skills she carried into her career.
“I felt incredibly lucky to be under the tutelage of two amazing professors in the creative department: Mark Allen and Glenn Griffin,” Lanier said. “To say they changed my life is an understatement. When I was in the program, they inspired all of us to want to be great while empowering us to get there ourselves. More practically speaking, the rigor of the program helped prepare me to meet deadlines and practice professionalism with my clients. I also met many talented students who have remained very close friends. Having a tight network of alums is invaluable.”
Currently, Lanier is pursuing her Masters of Fine Arts in Graphic Design at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Atlanta. She’s recently accepted an offer to be a Software Designer at IBM in Austin, which she will be starting next summer.
“It’s an exciting time to work in technology,” Lanier said. “I’m eager for all of the opportunities that await me at IBM. My goals for my career have always been to keep learning, work hard, and be proud of myself at the end of each day. I do see myself teaching somewhere down the line. I remember SMU and SCAD professors who made a huge impact on my life. Having a positive influence on other potential students would be extremely gratifying.”
Throughout her undergraduate, graduate, and career experiences, Lanier has learned valuable lessons that she hopes to impart on people who are in the same position she was once in.
“To the creative track students: take advantage of being in Professor Allen’s class,” Lanier said. “It is rare to find someone who not only cares about your academic development, but also cares about you as an individual. Professor Allen is brilliant and I felt like I became smarter just by breathing the same air as he did! So listen to him. To everyone [all students]: Make good connections with both your classmates and professors. Perform in ways that make people want to be on your team. I think you can get a lot of opportunities by being a kind, honest, and hardworking person. Employers will invest in your education and training if they want to work with you.”
For anyone, student or not, looking for a job or trying to establish a name for themselves, Lanier suggests using social media to help build your personal brand.
“On a more tangible level, use your social media presence as a way to show your personality,” Lanier said. “People will comb the depths of the Internet to look you up, so make sure what you say reflects you accurately. If you love photography, showcase your talents on Instagram. If you fancy yourself a comedian, fill your Twitter with shareable one-liners. There are a lot of ways you can convey your personality online, so take advantage of what’s most appropriate for you. An interviewer once brought up one of my Tweets in a meeting because he thought it was really funny. It sounds silly, but it isn’t. Take your personal brand seriously because you always have an audience.”