Advertising Club takes Chicago!

By Dan Goubert

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GVSU AD Club outside Leo Burnett

7 A.M., waking up in the morning…

 No, those aren’t Rebecca Black lyrics, but they do describe the beginning of a particularly memorable Friday for members of Grand Valley Advertising Club.

Up at the crack of dawn, dressed to impress, and with coffee in hand, 16 club members (and our wonderful faculty advisor Robin Spring, of course) left Grand Valley State University to see the big city of Chicago—more specifically, the towering offices of Leo Burnett, one of the world’s most famous and accomplished advertising agencies. Leo Burnett has more than a few big clients and campaigns you may have heard of.

McDonald’s and Kellogg’s, anyone?

After braving Chicago traffic, dizzying parking garages, and a couple wrong turns that turned into impromptu walking tours of the city, we made it to Portillo’s Hot Dogs to fuel up on the restaurant’s famous Chicago-style dogs before the big tour.

Hunger satisfied and brains brimming with potential, we arrived at our real destination. Following a game of close-quarters elevator Tetris, we were shepherded up the 50-story building to the offices of LAPIZ, Leo Burnett’s dedicated, integrated Hispanic marketing division.

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LAPIZ and their managing director Gustavo Razzetti were kind enough to set up and lead our activities for the day.

The good people at LAPIZ led us on a tour of Leo Burnett’s many specialized floors, as we bobbed up and down the elevators. First up was the agency’s sound design and video production suite. The latter contains a mammoth green screen and motion-capture technology for putting actors into the wild. These unlikely settings make for memorable advertisements.

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We had the pleasure of visiting Arc’s floor as well. Arc specializes in point-of-sale (in-store and on-shelf) advertising. In order to stress the importance of this last stage in the marketing process, Arc’s floor contains a fully stocked and realistic replica of a store’s beauty aisle, along with other innovations like augmented reality technology and a holographic popcorn bag, to name a few.

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Between these floors is the Leo Burnett’s creative department, their real-time campaign “war room,” which contains a curiously placed Jabba the Hutt inflatable. The impressive diversity of what we saw still hardly scratched the surface of the building’s contents.

After the grand tour and a quick pit stop at Leo Burnett’s Kellogg’s division (as a huge cereal geek, I insisted), we returned to LAPIZ for the day’s workshop.

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With an emphasis on design thinking, LAPIZ’s workshop showed us the many creative ideas for advertising and marketing campaigns that can come from understanding ones emotional baggage, challenging ones perspectives, and experimenting with new perspectives.

The afternoon’s activities included a personality test that classified us into one of four “social media personalities,” an introspective partner questionnaire, and brainstorming activities that tasked us to think through the eyes of kids, tightrope walkers, and in my group’s case, Spider-Man.

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While these activities may seem a bit unconnected and unexpected on their own, LAPIZ stressed the power of the whole and the serendipity of the everyday. We learned that good ideas can come from anywhere and anyone. For LAPIZ, their uncategorized placement of desks and employees amongst each other is meant to stimulate this very concept of outsider influence, as neighboring account planners and advertising creatives alike can seamlessly interchange ideas.

After an enlightening question and answer session, we sadly realized our Leo Burnett was coming to a close. We gave well-deserved thanks and goodbyes to Leo Burnett and LAPIZ before diving into the city once more. Our day at the agency was over, but the valuable ideation strategies we learned there are sure to last a lifetime.

And who knows, maybe we’ll all be back there soon as interns or employees?

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Grand Valley Advertising Club would like to thank LAPIZ and Leo Burnett again for sharing their experiences and hospitality.

Oh, and one last thanks goes to Lou Malnati, whose deep dish pizzeria left our stomachs as full as our minds. Here’s an obligatory, Instagram-worthy food glamour shot.

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