Willie Baronet, the Stan Richards Professor in Creative Advertising, has been buying and collecting homeless signs since 1993. The meaningful conversations Baronet had with the homeless when purchasing signs led to the founding of his not-for-profit We Are All Homeless. Through this organization, Baronet enlists volunteers and students to advocate for the homeless by organizing awareness-building events, including exhibits of collected signs and gathering donations.
In collaboration with a We Are All Homeless 2018 event, Baronet worked alongside researchers from Thomas Jefferson University’s Public Health Department and its director, Dr. Rosemary Frasso, to study the lived experiences of unhoused people who panhandle and their interactions with passersby. “I am so proud that I’ve been able to partner with Dr. Frasso to bring art and science together to create meaningful research to impact the homeless cause,” says Baronet. “Working with her students, and subsequently being a co-author to their research, is something I didn’t expect to be doing. The TAI slogan is Better Advertising. Better World. and the Meadows motto is Start a Movement. I hope that this work can be an example to our students who want to take the lessons we teach about creativity and purpose and find ways to make them a reality.”
Their resulting paper, ‘Even a smile helps’: Exploring the Interactions Between People Experiencing Homelessness and Passersby in Public Spaces, was published in the International Journal of Social Psychiatry this January. Forty semi-structured interviews were conducted with participants who were approached while panhandling and asked to describe their experiences asking for help in public and accessing homelessness services, as well as what they wished to share with those passing by. Participants’ experiences were consistent with loneliness, as characterized in the literature as distress at lack of social connection, and were also notable for the verbal and physical violence endured in public spaces. Many shared personal histories of tragedy and called for greater empathy and compassion from passersby, as well as society as a whole, for people experiencing homelessness. The researchers said that because social isolation and trauma are detrimental to mental health in this vulnerable group, interventions to support this population should provide opportunities for consistent, supportive social connections and focus on providing low-barrier, stable housing.
Dr. Frasso, the organizing researcher, adds, “This collaboration helped us both grow as scholars and educators. Working with colleagues outside your home discipline is powerful and together we were able to shed light on the lives of people experiencing homelessness, through art (the amazing exhibit we held at Jefferson) and through traditional public health channels, such as peer-reviewed literature.”
Temerlin Professor Willie Baronet began buying signs from the homeless in 1993 to connect and learn more about the journey of those on the streets, which eventually led to the WE ARE ALL HOMELESS project. “Like many, I wrestled with whether or not I was doing good by giving them money,” says Baronet. “Mostly I struggled with my moral obligations and how my own choices contributed, in conscious or unconscious ways, to the poverty I witnessed. I struggled with the unfairness of the lives people are born into, the physical, mental and psychological handicaps. In my struggle, I avoided eye contact with those on the street, unwilling to really see them, and in doing so avoided seeing parts of myself. That began to change once I began asking them if they would sell their signs.” Twenty-seven years later, he has collected around 2000 signs, which he uses to raise awareness for the homeless through events and exhibitions.
Earlier this year, Baronet was featured in a group exhibition, Houseless, at the Anchorage Museum. Some 500 collected signs were on display as part of a larger conversation: Could artists use design to find solutions to combat homelessness? According to the museum, “Design thinking helps break down complex problems and integrate new information and opinions while acknowledging there is no one right answer. The Houseless project provides a space for awareness, education and creative problem-solving around housing security in our own community. It supports individuals and communities in problem-solving together.” The exhibit concluded last month and included events such as Houseless Panel Conversation: Problem-Solving Through Design and Intersections of Domestic Violence and Homelessness for artists and the community to engage in a dialogue to discuss these challenging issues. Baronet’s cross-country sign collecting documentary, Signs of Humanity, was also featured as part of this exhibition.
More recently, Baronet was featured on Fox News regarding the second annual Home Is A Journey march, which took place November 14 at SMU to raise awareness about homelessness, compassion, gratitude and privilege. The event collected donations for two Dallas-based nonprofits, The Bridge and Vogel Alcove, that support the local homeless community. Participants also assisted with the socially distant assembly of blessing bags (snacks to hand out to the homeless) and learned about the Dallas homeless community through various speakers at the event. Home Is A Journey concluded with a march across campus in which each masked participant silently carried a homeless sign. Baronet explains, “It is important to recognize privilege, especially now. It’s also important to see each other as humans. I hope that WE ARE ALL HOMELESS provides inspiration and resources for students and our community to connect with those on the fringes of society.”
Baronet finds a direct correlation between this passion project and teaching creativity in advertising. “First, homeless signs are one of the purest forms of advertising,” he says. “Second, as a creative project, it is a great example of how creativity IS problem-solving and that creating compelling content is the best way to persuade people. This past year, one of the posters I designed for a WE ARE ALL HOMELESS exhibit was accepted into the Communication Arts Design Annual, the most prestigious design competition in the world. It’s hard to find a stronger intersection than that.” In addition, many of Baronet’s students volunteer outside of class with some aspect of the project, whether it’s helping kids at a workshop, assisting with an installation, or participating in the Home Is a Journey march across campus.
Temerlin Advertising Institute’s Senior Lecturer Mark Allen shares his journey from high school art class to advertising professor on the We Are Next podcast. Allen found his love for advertising early on, established RedCape consultancy working with clients such as Martha Stewart, and currently feeds his passion for teaching wildly talented students at SMU.
In fact, one of Allen’s former wildly talented students, Elizabeth Entenman (B.A. Advertising 2010), introduced him to We Are Next founder Natalie Kim for the sit-down and sharing of advice learned over his varied career in the field of advertising. We Are Next is a resource for students and junior talent entering the advertising and marketing industry. This platform offers mentorships, a robust jobs board, and a variety of career advice-related content.
An interest in art, followed by a design course in high school, led Allen to major in drawing & painting and communication design and minor in advertising while in college. Post-graduation, Allen recounts leaving his creative work with recruiters at many notable agencies. He once found a note from an agency principal inside his book. Allen says, “I was so excited to see the note, but it read Nice book. Can’t tell if you’re an art director or copywriter.”
He fondly retells this story to students as a critical moment in the progression of a career in advertising to help prepare them for the ups and downs that come along with building a reputation in the field. In the podcast, Allen recommends making creative portfolios stand out to potential employers by:
Showing your best work.
Making sure big ideas are supported by great craft.
Showing a sense of restraint, whether it is in art direction, writing or the selection of products and clients. It shows a sense of maturity.
Developing a good sense of taste over time by looking at lots of great work in Communication Arts annuals and The One Show, as well as Cannes and Clio award winners, to start. It is one of the most valuable things a student can do.
Showcasing quality work over quantity. Recruiters usually skim portfolios, so make sure to highlight your strengths and capabilities. Also, include class or spec work that you are excited about, as it gives employers a sense for the types of clients that would be a good fit for your skills.
Identifying and articulating problems, not only in a brief, but in brainstorming and day-to-day interactions. It helps to refine your craft and identifies you as somebody who can help other people, setting you up for director-level positions.
In advising students, Allen adds, “Look at ads and ask yourself questions such as, what is the problem? How did they solve it? When you see good work, identify what is compelling and deconstruct it a little bit. What makes it great? How and why did they make that?”
Last week the Temerlin Advertising Institute hosted its annual communications career fair, organized by Temerlin’s Sandi Edgar and held in conjunction with her Business Communications class. The evening began with Ivonne Kinser from Avocados From Mexico and Francisco Cardenas from LERMA/ breaking down their Super Bowl strategy and the cross-collaboration needed to produce their award-winning work. Students then met with agencies hiring for both full-time and internship positions.
Have a position you’d like to share with our students? Learn more here.
Temerlin’s Sandi Edgar wanted to know more about the AAF so she started attending events, this quickly evolved into joining the AAF Dallas Board of Directors in 2018. There she met some pretty incredible advertisers and quickly found her way as the AAF Dallas Education Chair.
A board of directors is the governing body of a nonprofit which is responsible for overseeing an organization’s activities. In this case, AAF Dallas board members meet monthly to discuss and vote on the affairs of the chapter. In addition to attending these meetings and AAF events, Edgar creates programs to engage college students and works with other board members to include educational initiatives in their planning. In 2019, AAF Dallas won second place nationally for its 17 educational programs! “Serving on a board is a really fun and rewarding way to serve our industry and community, I strongly recommend everyone connect to a non-profit and give back” Edgar explains.
Edgar has a new AAF position and recently sat down with Ray Schilens, CEO and founder of Radio Lounge, to discuss her role as the first American Advertising Federation District Education chair. As District 10 education chair, Edgar serves as a liaison between AAF national and district educational programs and initiatives. Whether it’s working with local representatives to onboard new NSAC (National Student Advertising Competition) schools, relaying information to professors in the district, or working with clubs to involve students, this role is new for the AAF and continues to evolve. Listen here: https://share.transistor.fm/s/cfae3f24
Charlie Malekan and Claudia Iraheta from The Richards Group guest lectured in Gordon Law’s 3303 Advertising Media class on Thursday, January 23rd. In addition to sharing information about TRG with the students, they also shared their annual Media Trends presentation, summarized below.
SMU Advertising students spent their winter vacation exploring the Dallas Advertising Industry.
A special topics course led by Professor Peter Noble delved into current media, advertising agency structure, and agency work culture for six hours per day for eight days as part of SMU’s January Term. A group of select undergraduate and graduate students visited Dallas ad agencies including TracyLocke and The Richards Group to get a backstage tour of the agencies, network and get the insiders’ perspectives from presentations given by agency professionals themselves.
Many students participate in for-credit internships through the Temerlin Advertising Institute Internship Program. “Students are able to find their own internships, but many agencies actively seek out our students as they are ready to contribute from day one,” relayed Professor Noble.
Graduate student Munir Abdurahman describes the power of small courses at Temerlin: “The experience I had at Commerce House is something I’ll always remember about this course. After we toured the agency I spent some time talking to the person that gave us the tour. I asked her some questions about what her experience was like during her graduate career at SMU. Lauren mentioned that it was a wonderful experience and that she wouldn’t be where she is today without being in the program. She also mentioned that I should always network and be involved in the program as opportunities can come out of nowhere!”
SMU Advertising students have recently interned at:
Words overheard from a classmate in my 9:30 am Logo Design class.
Her outfit: a pair of sweatpants and a loose-fitting t-shirt.
The word “homeless” carries such a heavy stigma, and that weight falls on the shoulders of those who have been there.
Creative Advertising professor, Willie Baronet, has been buying and collecting homeless signs for a project titled WE ARE ALL HOMELESS which he created in 1993. To me, this project acts as a gesture to humanize the people who have unwillingly been made invisible. While interacting with a homeless person on a street corner, I’m certain I’m not the only one who fiddles with my A/C, pretends to see something important on my phone, or just looks the other way. The people who find themselves in such adverse circumstances are completely ignored. Reduced to nothing but sharpies on cardboard.
On a chilly November morning, Willie Baronet brought Home is a Journey to SMU. The first annual walk to raise awareness about homelessness, compassion, gratitude and privilege. Students and supporters marched from Doak Walker Plaza to Dallas Hall Lawn, carrying authentic homeless signs, created and held by someone experiencing homelessness. A lineup of compelling speakers shared their stories about experiencing homelessness, an eye-opening and humbling experience for everyone in attendance.
Baronet recounts the event, “The most poignant moment of the whole march was when we turned right on the boulevard. I looked back and saw a line of 120 people, nobody smiling, nobody talking, all carrying signs…the gravity of that image was so powerful.”
This week, the majority of SMU’s student body will go home for the holidays.
Which prompts the question: What is home?
Is it a group of people? A familiar location? A feeling?
Whatever home means to you, this project intends to shift your perspective, remove the stigma around homelessness and create a sense of gratitude for what you do have.
In the program capstone course, Advertising Campaigns, our senior students showcase their accumulated knowledge through an intensive practical exercise. Working in small agency groups, they vie for the new business of a client. The client is real, in the room and judging their performance. The problems and the budgets are real. Students investigate, plan, develop strategies, create integrated marketing campaigns and solve clients’ advertising problems. We’ve worked with brands such as American Airlines, Dickey’s Barbecue Pit, Glidden, Nokia, Rockfish, Kinko’s, Hyundai, Postal Vault, Toyota Matrix, Bank of America, Waste Management, Wingstop and FLA USA.
Praise from one of last semester’s class clients below…
May 16, 2018
From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU for the marvelous work you and your students did on the marketing campaign for Cox Insurance. I am thrilled with the results. All of the campaigns went beyond my expectations and “hit it out of the ballpark.” At the beginning of the project, you said that no client had ever been disappointed with the results and I am certainly no exception. Indeed, it is hard to imagine a client being more happy than I am with the results.
All of the campaigns had useful information—some more than others—but the beauty of your method for teaching the students is that the competition generates an overall product which surely goes far beyond what would be possible otherwise. In other words, the whole project is a brilliant conception, and that redounds to you.
It was very hard to pick a winner since all of the campaigns were extremely well conceived and dug deep into the market. Red Chair’s winning campaign centered squarely on the reason why I started Cox Insurance in the first place, which is to save people time and give them the respect in the marketplace that such hard-working people deserve but have never had.
Again, thank you so much for helping me find the “nuggets” among Cox’s demographics. I know that we have to pick a project winner and that’s why I’m writing, but let’s be clear—I’m the real winner here—and I know it.
The 2018 SMU-TAI’s Ad Team, led by advisor Professor Amber Benson, competed with universities from Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana, in the AAF District 10 Convention, ADVENTION, in Corpus Christi, Texas on April 15, 2018. They placed third overall and took home a Special Judges Award for Best Market Segmentation in this year’s National Student Advertising Competition. Additionally, TAI students Avery Lewis and Alissa Llort were awarded AAF Tenth District Scholarships. All-in-all a great weekend!
TAI student Harrison Fiveash said he could have not been more excited with the outcome in Corpus Christi. “Not only placing third, but receiving the Special Judges Award for Best Market Segmentation is a true testament to how hard and cohesively our team operated,” he said.
Ad Team members had been working hard since the beginning of the Spring 2018 semester when they began doing research and strategy development for Ocean Spray, this year’s national client. The challenge was to drive relevancy of the brand for older millennials across both food and beverages.
With the concept BREAK OUT OF THE BOG, the team created a memorable campaign designed to give older millennials, aged 25-34, new reasons to purchase Ocean Spray throughout the year, by leveraging the health benefits, and highlighting Ocean Spray’s responsibility to the environment and to their farmers.
The team was asked to target older millennials, but they broke it down a little further to reveal a sweet spot in the millennial market that would provide Ocean Spray the highest lifetime customer value. How? by introducing the HENRYs. A HENRY is a “High Earner that is Not Rich Yet.” They view the brands they buy as a reflection of themselves, and improve their personal brand equity by buying from brands that they have a positive relationship with. Since HENRYs are both early adopters and social influencers, investing in them would create a halo effect that would influence the rest of the 44 million older millennial target.
After harvesting research insights, the team came to the conclusion that when it comes to the HENRYs, the brand is bogged down. These millennials tend to buy Ocean Spray products during the fall-winter holiday season, are unaware of Ocean Spray’s extensive product line, are skeptical about health claims, and don’t know about all the amazing things Ocean Spray does as a company.
The team decided to build on the existing brand equity of Ocean Spray’s highly popular “Straight from the Bog” campaign by breaking the Bog Guys, Justin and Henry, out of the bog and placing them in scenarios which align with the interests and values of the target market. All they needed to do, was to BREAK OUT OF THE BOG.
Four team members, Amy Cooley, Harrison Fiveash, Alex Mackillop and Sara Jane Stephens presented the team’s work to a panel of industry judges at the competition, with the goal of leveraging Ocean Spray’s social responsibility and their healthier and celebration-worthy products; showing that Ocean Spray could become more than just a Thanksgiving staple, a sugar-filled juice cocktail, and another corporate name.
Going to Corpus Christi to compete in the National Student Advertising Competition was an incredible experience for Ad Team Leader Sara Jane Stephens. “It was so wonderful to see the team’s handwork pay off. Our presentation went really well, and Harrison, Amy, Alex and I had so much fun presenting our campaign to the judges and the audience,” she said. “I am really proud of the team and very grateful to Dr. Edwards and Professor Benson for their guidance and hard work.”
Ad Team Leader Amy Cooley believes the hard work and late nights that the team put into the entire campaign and presentation were validated by the awards received. “I could not be more excited to have received two awards at NSAC this year,” she said. “This experience more than anything has prepared me for the real world in advertising, and I’m so thankful to have been able to be a part of it all.”
Advertising majors are required to complete ADV 4399 Advertising Campaigns as part of their curriculum. This class combines major advertising theories with practice, allowing students to develop and present an advertising campaign to a real client based on current advertising challenges that the client is facing. Students that take Advertising Campaigns during the Spring semester have the opportunity to participate in the National Student Advertising Competition (NSAC). Recent NSAC clients include Tai Pei Frozen Foods (2017) Snapple (2016) Pizza Hut (2015) Mary Kay (2014) Glidden Paint (2013) and Nissan (2012).
TAI Brand Management Student, Alissa Llort, said that being a member of SMU’s Ad Team was her most rewarding college experience. “I just loved the experience and would do it all over again,” she said. “Being part of the SMU Ad Team this semester allowed me to immerse into the actual process of building a campaign and experience the real advertising life!”
Please join the Temerlin Advertising Institute in congratulating this year’s SMU-TAI’s NSAC team on their outstanding work and accomplishments!
Members of the 2018 SMU-TAI’s NSAC team are: Hayley Banas, Myla Borden, Mary Charles Byers, Amy Cooley, Rita de Obarrio, Harrison Fiveash, Anne-Marie Geisler, Conrad Li, Alissa Llort, Alex Mackillop, London Mercer, Shelby Pointer, Juan Reyes, Sara Jane Stephens, Sara Ann Whiteley and Frank Zhang.