VCU Brandcenter


VCU Brandcenter Alumni Happy Hours

The VCU Brandcenter interns have organized happy hours for fellow interns and the alumni in the cities where they are interning. The happy hours will take place in cities around the country on Thursday, July 20th. Here are the details for each city. 

Brandcenter intern alumni happy hours 2017

Watch 9 Super Bowl Commercials by VCU Brandcenter Alumni

Eleven VCU Brandcenter alumni helped create nine commercials for the 2017 Super Bowl. Watch them all here!


Audi #DriveProgress: “Daughter”

Venables Bell & Partners

Allison Hayes (AD, 2005)
Mike McGuire (CW, 2015)


Bud Light: “Ghost Spuds”

Wieden + Kennedy New York

Matt Spicer (CW, 2010)


TurboTax: "Humpty Hospital"

Wieden + Kennedy PDX

Susan Land (AD, 2010)


Evony: The King's Return: “The Battle of Evony”

Butler Shine Stern & Partners

Lydia White Dunay (AD, 2012)


Hyundai: “A Better Super Bowl”


Anna Andreen (AD, 2016)


Sprint: "No Need for Extreme Measures"


George Bennett (ST, 2017)


Aflac: “Surgery”

Publicis Seattle

JP Martin (St, 2011)
Marie Matuszewski (ST, 2014)


Fox Sports: “Happy #DaytonaDay”

Pereira & O'Dell

Lily Fu (AD, 2016)


Toyota Mirai: “Daisy” (Regional - California)

Saatchi & Saatchi LA

Spencer Isaac (ST, 2015)

VCU Brandcenter student Jessica Sugerman wins Wongdoody's Women in Advertising Scholarship

Jessica Sugerman Wongdoody Scholarship WinnerToday VCU Brandcenter art direction student Jessica Sugerman was named the latest recipient of WONGDOODY’s Women in Advertising Scholarship.

Sugerman is the fourth recipient of WONGDOODY’s scholarship, which was established in 2015 to support increased female creative leadership within the advertising industry. [All four recipients are VCU Brandcenter women.]

“Jessica brings a strong fine art background and diverse experience to our industry in a way that infuses a unique personality into everything she creates,” said WONGDOODY Executive Creative Director Pam Fujimoto. “This, coupled with her earnestness, enthusiasm and drive, convinced us that she’s incredibly deserving of this scholarship.”

Sugerman comes to art direction after starting her career working with The Sketchbook Project and with the Noguchi Museum and Guggenheim Museum planning exhibits and visitor experiences.

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Spurrier Group Awards $5,000 Scholarship to VCU Brandcenter Student

Eric Enninful Spurrier Group Scholarship winnerEric Enninful, a second-year student at Virginia Commonwealth University Brandcenter, is the 2016 recipient of a $5,000 annual scholarship from Spurrier Group, a Capitol Communicator sponsor and one of the leading media and research firms in both Richmond and Washington, D.C.

Since 2008, Spurrier Group has contributed $45,000 to support scholarships for nine deserving Brandcenter students who intend to pursue a career in the advertising field. According to Joey Broussard, senior director of development for the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Business, with which VCU Brandcenter is affiliated, the investment by Spurrier Group represents a level of support that is unprecedented for a small business in the advertising and media industry.

“We are indebted to Donna Spurrier and her team for providing this financial boost to launch the careers of future professionals in the advertising arena,” he said. “Eric Enninful follows in a long line of deserving recipients.”

Enninful earned a bachelor’s degree in communications studies from the University of Ghana in 2009. Before coming to the U.S., he worked as an account manager/planner at a J. Walter Thompson affiliate agency in Ghana.

“My wife, who is currently a law student at the University of Richmond, told me about the post-graduate program in advertising at VCU Brandcenter while I was still in Ghana, so it became a part of my plans after I moved to Richmond.”

He commented that the style of teaching at Brandcenter offers students a real-world experience that is different from many other graduate programs. “The professors and guest speakers have worked in the industry and bring such a high level of expertise to the classroom,” he said. “I especially enjoy collaborating on the group projects to share ideas and to develop strategies for implementing them.”

During the summer of 2016, Enninful interned in the Washington, D.C. offices of Wunderman, a global advertising and marketing company with an elite clientele of major pharmaceutical brands. He was assigned to the digital team with responsibility to research and create a monthly e-newsletter on social media changes related to brand marketing, as well as helping to develop agency POVs for clients on emerging digital trends, among other duties.

A Brandcenter alum who worked with Enninful at Wunderman commented, “Eric gave a presentation to our department and it was very impressive considering he’s only had a few months to learn about the pharma industry. It had the entire group thinking of ideas for furthering our client’s brand purpose and getting them to really dive deeper.”

Those words of praise were no surprise to Caley Cantrell, who has been one of Enninful’s professors at Brandcenter. “He has really embraced the Brandcenter experience and wants to get the most out of it,” she said. “I am so fortunate to have had these two years to work with Eric.”

The generous scholarship from Spurrier Group is much appreciated by the Enninful family, comprised of three young children including a baby born in May 2016. “The demands of school and home have made it challenging to find another source of income, so the scholarship takes a lot of financial responsibility off my shoulders,” he said. “It really helps a lot, and I’m very grateful.”

Donna Spurrier, founder and CEO of Spurrier Group and a frequent guest speaker in Brandcenter classes, commented on her agency’s commitment to the scholarship program at Brandcenter. “We are delighted to help bright, talented students like Eric take full advantage of this world-class graduate school experience. We look forward to following his career trajectory for years to come.”

In his limited leisure time, Enninful follows European soccer, especially the Liverpool Football Club, and travels as frequently as he can. He has a long-term ambition to visit all 50 U.S. states in 50 days. “That’s probably wishful thinking, but it’s a dream goal,” he laughed. For now, Enninful is focused on finishing his master’s degree next May. Prior to enrolling in Brandcenter, he assumed that he was destined to work at an advertising agency. However, as his problem-solving skills have sharpened over the past two years, he is now open to considering brand strategy positions on the client-side. “Radio also intrigues me because it’s an evolving media option,” he concluded. “I’m exploring many opportunities!”


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Fall 2016 Alumni Newsletter is out!

Leo Burnett Chicago Alumni Info Session Winter 2016From recruiting and alumni events, to the Class of 2016 graduating and getting jobs, to welcoming the Class of 2018, catch up on everything that's been going on with the VCU Brandcenter and our alumni in our Fall 2016 Alumni Newsletter.  





VCU Brandcenter Announces Alumni Summit, Oct. 19-21

The VCU Brandcenter is thrilled to announce it's inaugural Alumni Summit.

To celebrate our 20th Anniversary, we‘ve developed a special program specifically for our alumni. It’s an opportunity to network and catch up with each other (like a reunion) but also an opportunity for professional development and thought leadership (learning from each other). We have so many successful alums. There's a lot to learn from each other.

VCU Brandcenter Alumni Summit

Wednesday, October 19 – Friday, October 21

VCU Brandcenter
103 S. Jefferson Street Richmond, VA 23284

Check out the schedule, list of alumni speakers and more in the Alumni Summit Brochure

Registration fee includes the following:

  • Supplies
  • Dinner (10.19)
  • Breakfast and Lunch (10.20 and 10.21)

Register Here

Tiny Tech: A startup bringing big changes to protective clothing

Collaboration between students from VCU School of Engineering and VCU Brandcenter is addressing concerns about the health effects of electromagnetic radiation. 


By Rebecca Jones
VCU School of Engineering

Pregnant Woman wearing Tiny TechAs cell phones and other wireless technologies proliferate, there is growing concern about the health effects of the electromagnetic radiation these devices emit. Tiny Tech, a startup that began in the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Engineering, is addressing those concerns by weaving effective EM radiation shielding into clothing.

Tiny Tech Umar HasniThe Tiny Tech team brings together talent from the School of Engineering and the VCU Brandcenter, which is part of the School of Business. Umar Hasni, a Ph.D. candidate in electrical engineering, and Margaret Karles, a student in the Brandcenter’s Experience Design Program, have joined Erdem Topsakal, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, to develop the product and form the company. They are united in their enthusiasm for technology, and in their commitment to make it safer.

“In the age of connectivity, everything is at the touch of our fingertips,” Hasni said. “In order to make that happen, radio frequencies and microwave frequencies are connecting everybody’s devices. You can’t stop technology from progressing — you want it to do better. So we’re focusing on how we can still progress in technology but keep ourselves safe as well.”

Selectively Screening EM Radiation

‌Connections between electronics and health are a longstanding interest for Topsakal, whose electrical engineering research includes health care applications of microwaves. After his father’s death from lung cancer, his interests turned to the possible relationship between radio waves and cancers.

Tiny Tech Erdem Topsakai“The European Commission declared EM radiation potentially carcinogenic, and I needed to know more,” he said.

He also examined an important 2012 Yale University study in which pregnant laboratory mice exposed to ordinary cell phone radiation produced offspring that were more hyperactive and had poorer memories compared to a control group — essentially the characteristics of ADHD. Fetuses and infants have thinner skulls, so it made sense to Topsakal that they might be most susceptible to the effects of radio waves.

“That was when the light bulb came on,” he said. “You could develop fabrics for garments that selectively screen out EM radiation.”

But why screen out EM radiation selectively? Topsakal explained that a 100 percent reflective surface is essentially a metal sheet, the kind of thing being manufactured overseas today. Those garments are expensive and notoriously uncomfortable. Worse, their stiff fabrics create openings, usually around the arms and neck, which allow radio waves in and can even keep them from escaping.

Using its patent-pending technology, Tiny Tech is able to produce fabric flexible enough to fit the body’s contours comfortably while also screening out 99.9 percent of EM radiation waves.

The team thinks that one of Tiny Tech’s greatest strengths is the fact that it is streamlined enough to make EM radiation protection affordable.

Margaret Karles Tiny Tech headshot“The reason we are able to make it so cost effective is because it is so brutally simple,” Hasni said. “I could tell you how to make it and you could go home and make it. It would be very crude, but … ”

“Beautifully simple, not brutally simple,” interjected Karles, who leads the branding side of the startup and designed the first proof-of-concept prototype.

They are rolling the product out to expectant mothers first. Consumer data indicate expectant mothers, who number approximately 4 million annually in the U.S., are particularly concerned about EM radiation, Karles said. Some pregnant women are removing wireless technologies from their homes and going back to hard wiring.

Tiny Tech has attracted multiple investors. It received $5,000 from the VCU Pre-Accelerator Program, which also designated Tiny Tech as “Most Scale-able Company.” It also won $4,000 from the VCU Venture Creation Competition. Most recently, it was awarded $15,000 from the VCU Quest for Innovation Commercialization Fund. The team is applying for the Richmond-based Lighthouse Labs Accelerator Fund, along with a few other accelerator programs. In the meantime, the Tiny Tech team members will use their $24,000 in seed capital to produce and test prototypes this summer.

“We will wash the garments a hundred times to make sure they are still effective,” Topsakal said. “We will also have people trying them on the make sure the clothes are comfortable.”

The team believes that VCU has also enriched Tiny Tech’s development in ways that go beyond financial support.

“There are incredible resources that were always available to us,” Hasni said. “We’re using a network analyzer. And when you get to work with people from different backgrounds, you learn so much. That is one of the key things that VCU facilitated.”

After this summer’s intensive prototyping phase, the team would like to see a soft launch, with online sales starting next summer. In 2018, they will assess and evaluate the company. They plan to license the Tiny Tech process to clothing manufacturers and would like to see the Tiny Tech brand become as ubiquitous, and as trusted, as cotton.

“People will see our logo and know, ‘Oh, Tiny Tech is protecting these clothes,’” Karles said. “We think it will be one of the things that make a piece of clothing something you want to wear.”

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Brandcenter director on Cindy Gallop calling out sexism: Cindy's watching you...

by Helayne Spivak, Director, VCU Brandcenter

The Case for Creativity book"I like to blow shit up. I am the Michael Bay of business." That's how Cindy Gallop describes herself in her linkedin profile. She is an equal rights activist, author, lecturer and founder of IfWeRanTheWorld and Make Love Not Porn. She's not afraid of a little controversy. In fact, she's not afraid of a lot of controversy. Here in Cannes, in just 3.5 days, she's called out James Hurman's book, "The Case For Creativity," for sexism (well founded) and shamed Vayner Media for an unfortunate invitation put out by an events company in Vayner's name "seeking attractive females and models only." To his credit, Mr. Vaynerchuk, visibly embarrassed, reached out through social media and apologized to Ms. Gallop and, we assume, to women everywhere.

Always being on the lookout for this kind of bias, no matter how big or small, is not an easy, or popular, position to take. The field of advertising has long held the reputation for being a white, male dominated industry and the numbers tell us that not much has changed. So let's help Cindy Gallop out a bit and add our voices to her cry-out for equality. Not just for women, but for all under-represented members of our society. See something, say something. Even better, DO something.

See post on LinkedIn >




AKQA Announces Future Lions 2016 Winners

The VCU Brandcenter team of Xia Du (XD, 2017) and Yanci Wu (XD, 2017) (pictured far left) were among the five winning teams.

Yanci Wu and Xia Du Future Lions Group ShotAKQA today announced the winners of Future Lions, the official student awards at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. Over 1,900 students from 69 countries participated, making it the most entered and competitive year.

The five winning ideas and teams are:

Book Messenger for Penguin Books
Team: Jiwon Ko, Miyeon Shin, Seonhaeng Lee, Haeyoon Jhun
Schools: Kookmin University, Hongik University, Chung-ang University / Big Ant Academy, South Korea

Amazon Emma for Amazon
Team: Yanci Wu and Xia Du
School: VCU Brandcenter, United States

View VCU Brandcenter students' entry, Amazon Emma:

Team: Filip Myringer, Amelie Farmer, Olga Lillienau, Sofia Bleiweiss, Ebba von Zweigbergk
School: Berghs School of Communication, Sweden

LEGO Generator for LEGO
Team: Petter Monsen, Tomas Möller, Axel Lokrantz Månsson, Kristofer Gullard Lindgren, Simon Kraft
School: Beckmans College of Design, Sweden

Music Speaks for Spotify
Team: Sebastian Brännén and Maria Lashari
School: Berghs School of Communication, Sweden

Berghs School of Communication is named Future Lions School of the Year, having received more shortlisted finalists than any other school. This is the third year in a row that Berghs has won this recognition.

Each winning team and Berghs School are awarded with the iconic Future Lions trophy on stage in the Debussy Theatre at the Cannes Festival Palais. Torsten Schuppe, Google’s Senior Director, Brand and Consumer Marketing EMEA, presented the School of the Year trophy. The ceremony was hosted by AKQA CEO Ajaz Ahmed and Group Creative Director Ian Wharton.

Ajaz Ahmed said: “Future Lions is a canvas where the next generation of talent unleash the start of their creative potential, sowing the seeds of an enterprising and rewarding career.”

Torsten Schuppe said: “Google is delighted to partner with AKQA for Future Lions. We are inspired by this year’s entries that thoughtfully pursue pioneering ideas, harnessing exciting new technologies to help people lead happier and healthier lives.”

AKQA created and led the Future Lions program since its inception in 2006. The competition has launched the careers of over 60 of the most talented young creatives.

To learn more about the 2016 Future Lions winners, please visit:

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Marcus Graham Project launches new Clinton Global Initiative America Commitment to Action to partner with 4A's MAIP program, IAB Education Foundations iDiverse Initiative, and VCU Brandcenter

The VCU Brandcenter is proud to support this initiative and will work to increase diversity across its faculty and student body as well as to provide fellowship opportunities to qualified candidates of its Master’s program.

Marcus Graham Project Announces “Boomerang Effect 2020 Plan” CGI Commitment to Action to fill a percentage of the 1.4 Million Jobs that will be open in the year 2020

Marcus Graham Project Announcement Colorful HandsDALLAS – June 15, 2016 – Marcus Graham Project launched a Clinton Global Initiative America (CGI America) Commitment to Action this week at the 2016 CGI America Meeting.

The commitment was presented within the College & Career Readiness Working Group, amongst a variety of leaders working to support student success. Building off of the Reconnecting Youth Working Group of prior years, attendees in the new 2016 College and Career Readiness Working Group will generate Commitments to Action aimed at providing all students with access to the resources and opportunities needed to have a meaningful education and career.

The commitment, titled, “Boomerang Effect: 2020 Plan” kicks off a partnership between, the Marcus Graham Project, the 4A’s MAIP Program, the iDiverse, the diversity initiative of the IAB Education Foundation and VCU Brandcenter to build and deliver a $40 million comprehensive career readiness, job training, and job retention program. The program will be geared toward filling a percentage of the more than one million digital media, advertising, technology, data, operations, and e-commerce jobs that will be open by the year 2020, with qualified minority professionals who are widely underrepresented in the industry.

. Through the collective impact approach, the group will convene and partner with key stakeholders within the digital media and marketing industry ecosystem to help deliver a career readiness, job training/placement and retention programming reaching 20,000 high-school, entry-level, and mid-level candidates over the next five years to fill digital media, advertising, technology, data, operations, and e-commerce jobs.

Our partnership will also extend to include higher education through Virginia Commonwealth University’s Brandcenter, a renowned two-year Master’s Program in marketing and advertising. The Brandcenter has made a commitment to increase diversity across it’s faculty, student body and to actively support our efforts to change the landscape in the industry. The partnership will also provide a meaningful recruitment channel for the Brandcenter, while providing fellowship opportunities to qualified candidates.

To implement this commitment, the initial convening will take place in New York in late July 2016 to develop a plan of action for how all organizations are able to work together to maximize the resources and best practices of each entity.

The sixth annual Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) America meeting was held June 12–14, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. CGI announced new programming and participants in this year's meeting, including President Jimmy Carter who joined President Bill Clinton in a special one-on-one conversation.

The mission of CGI is to turn ideas into action. CGI America brings together leaders in business, philanthropy, government, and nonprofits to develop solutions that encourage continued economic growth, support long-term competitiveness, and increase social mobility in the United States. Each CGI America participant makes a Commitment to Action: a new, specific, and measurable plan that supports increased economic growth and opportunity.

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Brandcenter commencement speaker, alum Michael Karnjanaprakorn, receives inaugural Square Peg Award for Creative Problem Solving

Mike Karnjanaprakorn Square Peg Award

VCU Brandcenter alum Michael Karnjanaprakorn (ST, 2006), Founder and CEO of Skillshare, is the first recipient of the VCU Brandcenter's Square Peg Award for Creative Problem Solving. Mike gave the commencement address to the Brandcenter Class of 2016 during their graduation ceremony on May 12th, 2016. After his speech, director Helayne Spivak presented Mike with the inaugural award in the shape of a square, wooden peg in a round hole. The Square Peg Award, designed by Cabell Harris, celebrates the newly articulated purpose of the VCU Brandcenter, now in its 20th year: To develop the world's best creative problem solvers. 

In his commencement address, Mike spoke of making difficult and sometimes unpopular choices, of seeing failures as opportunities to find solutions, and of questioning everything. He himself started questioning why education was so expensive and why it was not accessible to everyone in the world. Ultimately Mike asked, "what if everyone in the world could teach what they knew to everyone else, instantly, easily, on the internet?" What started as a question became an idea that Mike turned into Skillshare: an online community for teachers and students where anyone can teach or take a class.

Square Peg AwardBefore Skillshare, Mike led the product team at Hot Potato (acquired by Facebook) and was an early employee at Behance (acquired by Adobe). He was named one of the 100 most creative people in business by Fast Company magazine, he's a TED Fellow, and he has been featured in The New York Times, Tech Crunch, and Entrepreneur Magazine among others.

Mike embodies the qualities the VCU Brandcenter aims to cultivate in its students as it prepares them to be creative problem solvers and is much deserving of the inaugural VCU Brandcenter Square Peg Award for Creative Problem Solving. In his final remarks, he challenged the Class of 2016 to stay curious, never stop learning, always ask questions, and never give up - so that they too can change the world.

The winter 2016 alumni newsletter is out!

Take a look at our winter 2016 alumni newsletter‌ to see what's been going on at the Brandcenter and with our alums! 

Brandcenter's new display case features alumni businesses, examples of successful creative problem solvers

Yellow innovator display caseWhen the VCU Brandcenter developed its new statement of purpose, “to develop the world’s best creative problem solvers,” it was necessary highlight some of the alumni who have proven the statement to be true.

There is now a bright yellow display case in the Brandcenter lobby that features several examples where our alumni identified a problem, developed a creative solution, and turned that idea into a successful business. 

Below is a list of the alumni and their businesses featured in the case. Take a closer look at each business problem and solution here. We hope this display continues to evolve as more alumni launch their own businesses. 

  • Skillshare
    Mike Karnjanaprakorn (ST, 2006)

  • Klink
    Geoff Castillo (AD, 2015)

  • Hackaball
    Rachel Mercer (XD, 2012)

    Bryan Marville (ST, 2008) and Patrick Lorentz (ST, 2008)

  • Shine Craft Vessel Co.
    Jordan Childs (CBM, 2009)

  • NoPhone
    Van Gould (AD, 2012) and Chris Sheldon (CW, 2012)

  • Old Tom Foolery
    Lauren Weinblatt Gryniewski (AD, 2005) and Joel 
    Gryniewski (CW, 2005)

  • Dustin’s Words
    Matt Reamer (XD, 2014), Donnie Plumly (XD, 2014), 
    and Mary Toves (XD, 2011) 

Brandcenter student Steven Ebert offered coveted WPP Fellowship

Steven Ebert WPP Fellowship
We are extremely proud of VCU Brandcenter second year strategist, Steven Ebert, who has been offered the coveted WPP Fellowship. WPP, an advertising agency holding company, created the fellowship program to introduce students to the marketing and communications industry.

The program admits top students from MBA and graduate programs for three one-year rotations at WPP companies around the world, "to develop high-calibre management talent with experience across a range of marketing disciplines." Over 1,500 candidates from all over the globe applied for the opportunity, and WPP only extended twelve offers.

"The final round included 24 of the most impressive people I’ve ever met. It was a group of really passionate, dedicated, inspiring folks, all of whom were uniquely qualified," Steven remarked. The intense selection process included interviews as well as team assignments and presentations.  "To find out that I’d been selected was more humbling than anything else. I’m still in disbelief, really."

There have been five previous WPP fellows from the VCU Brandcenter: Emily Collier Sengenberger (ST, 2003), Emanuel Basnight (ST, 2004), Casey Conway (ST, 2004), Katie Chapin (ST, 2010) and Haywood Watkins (ST, 2012). 

Steven does plan to accept the fellowship, which begins in September, although the location has not yet been determined.

Watch all 13 Super Bowl commercials worked on by 20 VCU Brandcenter alumni

Every year, several VCU Brandcenter alumni contribute to some of the best commercials of the big game. In 2016, the year we celebrate our 20th anniversary, a record twenty Brandcenter alumni worked on thirteen Super Bowl spots or campaigns. We've compiled them for you to watch below.

Audi: “Commander”
Agency: VB+P
Alumni: Dylan Phillips (ST, 2015) and Johnny Roelofs (ST, 2013)


Bai: "Horse Whisperer" (regional)
Agency: Barton F. Graf 9000
Alumni: Richard Langhorne (CW, 2011), Zack Madrigal (AD, 2013) and Nick Kaplan (CW, 2008)


Bud Light: "Party" (with Amy Schumer and Seth Rogen)
Agency: Wieden + Kennedy New York
Alum: Howard Finkelstein (CW, 2005) and Stuart Jennings (AD, 2003)


Coca-Cola: "Coke Mini (Hulk vs. Antman)
Agency: Wieden + Kennedy Portland
Alum: Nate Nowinowski (AD, 2011)


Gatorade: "Unwritten: Peyton Manning vs. Cam Newton"
Agency: TBWA\Chiat\Day
Alum: Scott Cleveland (CW, 2011)


Jack in the Box (regional): "Declaration of Delicious"
Agency: DavidandGoliath
Alum: Steve Yee (AD, 2000)


Marmot: "Love the Outside" 
Agency: Goodby Silverstein & Partners
Alumni: Kirstie Maryott (ST, 2013) and Marisa Perazzelli (ST, 2015)


Mountain Dew: "Puppy Monkey Baby"
Agency: BBDO
Alum: Don Marshall Wilhelmi (CW, 2004), also the voice of the puppy monkey baby.


Pantene: “Strong is Beautiful | Pantene Dad-Do” (regional)
Agency: Grey
Alum: Lindsey Randolph (ST, 2004)


PayPal: “There’s a New Money in Town”
Agency: CP+B
Alum: Mike Wilson (AD, 2011)


Pokémon: “#Pokemon20”
Agency: Omelet LA
Alumni: Morgan Welch Aceino (CBM, 2011), Jas Gill (CBM, 2012), Blakeley Jones (CW, 2014)


Priceline: “When family’s on the line:”
Agency: BBDO
Alum: Tom Naughton (ST, 2006)


TurboTax: "Never a Sellout"
Agency: Wieden + Kennedy Portland
Alum: Matt Skibiak (CW, 2013)

Dates set for Spring 2016 Info Sessions in Richmond, Chicago, San Francisco and Portland

The VCU Brandcenter holds information sessions for anyone interested in our graduate program for advertising and branding.

  • Learn about the VCU Brandcenter Master's program and its 5 tracks: Art Direction, Copywriting, Experience Design, Strategy, and Creative Brand Management
  • Hear from an admissions representative
  • Hear from current Brandcenter students on a Q&A panel
  • Take a tour of the award winning Brandcenter building

Spring 2016 Info Session Dates

Please register for the date you wish to attend.

Sat., Feb. 20th
VCU Brandcenter
Richmond, VA +REGISTER
Mon., Feb. 29th
VCU Brandcenter Richmond, VA +REGISTER
Sat., Mar. 5th
VCU Brandcenter Richmond, VA +REGISTER
Mon., Mar 7th
Leo Burnett
Tues. Mar. 8th
Venables Bell & Partners
San Francisco, CA +REGISTER

Thurs., Mar. 10th

Wieden + Kennedy
Portland, OR +REGISTER
Fri., Mar. 18th
VCU Brandcenter Richmond, VA +REGISTER


Location for sessions in Richmond
VCU Brandcenter Lecture Hall
103 S. Jefferson Street
Richmond, VA 23284

Guests who will be driving may either street park along Cary Street (metered) or Canal Street (free), which run along either side of our building, or pay to park in the visitor's lot (JL Lot) on 200 W. Cary Street.

Contact Admissions Coordinator Hawley Smyth:

Can't make any of these dates?
Schedule a one-on-one meeting with Admissions Coordinator Hawley Smyth:

We look forward to meeting you!

Go to Admissions >

VCU Brandcenter announces Excellence Scholarship

Addition of new scholarship celebrates students, creativity and diversity

By Leslie Griles

To kick off its 20th anniversary celebration, the Virginia Commonwealth University Brandcenter is giving back to students in the form of new scholarships totaling $50,000.

The VCU Brandcenter Excellence Scholarship will award one $10,000 scholarship to an applicant in each of its five tracks — Art Direction, Copywriting, Creative Brand Management, Experience Design and Strategy — for the 2016-2017 school year. In addition to celebrating the Brandcenter’s upcoming 20th anniversary, the scholarship provides an incentive for the school’s quality applicants. This new scholarship is in addition to the over $100,000 given during the school year to Brandcenter students.

Brandcenter Excellence Scholarship Quote"Due to the collaborative nature of our program, and the fact that we accept students from all backgrounds, attracting quality applicants from all over the world continues to be a top priority for us," said VCU Brandcenter Director Helayne Spivak.

"We felt the best way to celebrate our upcoming 20th anniversary was to celebrate what makes our program unique: the varied student body that shares a common goal of learning how to creatively and collaboratively solve business problems.

Founded in 1996, the Brandcenter combines business-oriented communications strategy and brand management tactics with leading-edge marketing creativity. In 2013, the Brandcenter became part of the VCU School of Business, earning a reputation for delivering some of the best, brightest and most well-rounded advertising and marketing communications graduates in the field.

While the Excellence Scholarship is planned as a one-time award, the school’s leaders hope to continue it in the future via scholarship donations.

To learn more about the VCU Brandcenter or to apply, please visit

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Alumni Salary Survey 2015 Results now available

Alumni Salary Survey 2015 ResultsWhat happens after graduating from the VCU Brandcenter?

Check out our Alumni Salary Survey Results 2015‌ to find out our alumni's average annual salaries by track, level, and region. We also took a look at things like how happy alumni are at their job, how many hours they work each week, career advancement and what companies/agencies they think are doing the best work in our industry right now.


VCU Brandcenter Application for Fall 2016 now available

The VCU Brandcenter application for Fall 2016 is now available! The application can be requested on our Admissions page

VCU Brandcenter students win $2,500 prize in Epilepsy Challenge

Second year strategists Stephen Ebert and Mckenzie Beer are among winners of Epilepsy Foundation Challenge

Epilepsy Foundation LogoLANDOVER, MD – The Epilepsy Foundation SUDEP Institute announced the winners of its first challenge, “Empowering People with Epilepsy.” This was the first of four challenges that will ultimately award more than $1 million in prizes.

Each winning solution presented creative and viral advocacy campaign ideas that inform and educate people with epilepsy, families, and the health care community. The campaign submissions were aimed at a change in behavior that leads to better seizure control, therefore reducing sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP) risk. The Epilepsy Foundation SUDEP Institute will begin implementing the ideas from the winning solutions in the upcoming months.

The first prize of $10,000 was awarded to Chad Spencer of Smithfield, Utah. A $2,500 prize was awarded to a team comprised of Jenna Brooks of Alexandria, Va., and Lizzette Vidal-Alicea of Fairfax, Va. Another $2,500 prize was awarded to a team with six members: Mackenzie Beer and Steven Ebert of Richmond, Va.; Candace Faircloth of Virginia Beach, Va.; Scott Menzie of Waynesville, N.C.; Sunny Sun of Berkeley, Calif.; and Eden Mesfin of Concord, Calif.

“Death from epilepsy is very real. If seizures are uncontrolled, the risk of SUDEP is more than 1 out of 150. Reducing risk of death from seizures is a major objective of the Epilepsy Foundation and our SUDEP Institute,” said Phil Gattone, president and CEO of the Epilepsy Foundation. “We are grateful to everyone who participated in this challenge and are eager to integrate the winning ideas into a campaign that will save more lives.”

More than 300 people registered on the InnoCentive global marketplace. Ultimately, a total of 90 solutions were submitted from entrants in more than 50 countries. Solvers included people living with epilepsy, bereaved family members, doctors, nurses, communications experts, and many more.

"InnoCentive is proud to be the technology and service provider that is connecting the greater epilepsy community with the Epilepsy Foundation SUDEP Institute," said Craig Jones, chairman and CEO of InnoCentive. "Congratulations to our winners for bringing new ideas for enhancing the public awareness, understanding, and action of this condition."

See More >

VCU Brandcenter now offers students free premium access to

The VCU Brandcenter is happy to announce it now offers all students premium access to and all of its educational libraries. The Brandcenter and the Kornblau Real Estate Program in VCU School of Business are piloting a program with Lynda Campus. it is an online subscription library that teaches the latest software, creative and business skills through high-quality instructional videos. 

Benefits to using include:

  •           Unlimited access to courses on a wide variety of technologies and disciplines
  •           Up-to-date content to keep skills current and to learn new skills
  •           New courses added every week
  •           Tutorials taught by recognized industry experts
  •           Access to instructors’ exercise files to follow along as you learn
  •           Closed captioning and searchable, time-coded transcripts
  •           Beginner to advanced courses
  •           The option to watch complete courses or bite-size videos as you need them

Dates set for Fall 2015 Info Sessions

The VCU Brandcenter holds information sessions for anyone interested in our graduate program for advertising and branding.

*Learn about the VCU Brandcenter Master's program and its 5 tracks: Art Direction, Copywriting, Experience Design, Strategy, and Creative Brand Management
*Hear from current Brandcenter students on a Q&A panel
*Take a tour of the award winning Brandcenter building
*Speak with an admissions representative

Fall 2015 Dates

Please register for the date you wish to attend.

Saturday, Oct. 17th, 11am REGISTER
Friday, Oct. 23rd, 2pm REGISTER
Monday, Nov. 9th, 6:30pm REGISTER
Saturday, Nov. 14th, 11am REGISTER
Saturday, Dec. 12th, 11am REGISTER






VCU Brandcenter Lecture Hall
103 S. Jefferson Street
Richmond, VA 23284

Guests who will be driving may either street park along Cary Street (metered) or Canal Street (free), which run along either side of our building, or pay to park in the visitor's lot (JL Lot) on 200 W. Cary Street.

Contact Admissions Coordinator Hawley Smyth:

Can't make any of these dates?
Schedule a one-on-one meeting with Admissions Coordinator Hawley Smyth:

We look forward to meeting you!

Go to Admissions >

Summer 2015 alumni newsletter now available

Summer 2015 Alumni NewsletterThe summer 2015 alumni newsletter‌ is now available!  

Check out what's been going on at the Brandcenter and with our alumni since last winter.

From graduation, jobs, and internships for the Class of 2015 and 2014, to curriculum/program updates like the transition of Creative Technology track to experience design, to real world projects and even Brandcenter Prom, Beyond Sixty shows what life has been like at the VCU Brandcenter over the Spring semester.

It also highlights some of the exciting work and projects our alumni are doing in the industry, their innovative new business and product launches, and personal news like weddings and babies so they can stay connected with each other.

See More >

Brandcenter team wins Radio Mercury Student Award

Lives for Lives LogoA radio spot by VCU Brandcenter students Patrick Girts (CW, 2015) and Sarah Johnston (CW, 2015) entitled "The Auction" won the student competition of the Radio Mercury Awards and a prize of $1,500. 

"The Auction" was part of a campaign Sarah and Patrick developed for Lives for Lives, an initiative they and their Brandcenter teammates, Josh Stolz (AD, 2015), Rosalee Lewis (AD, 2015), Aldo Padilla (XD, 2015), Newman Granger (ST, 2015), and Garrett Lyon (CBM, 2015), developed in response to a problem: People don't see the illegal animal trade as an issue that directly effects them. Yet their research uncovered the fact that poaching helps fund terrorist groups and terrorist acts harming people around the world.

The team's campaign sets out to raise awareness that the illegal animal trade is not just a crime against animals. It is also a crime against people.

Lives for Lives: "The Auction"

Kendra Gaines (AD, 2015) was named one of the other 6 finalists in the Radio Mercury Awards student competition, with her spot for Blenheim Ginger Ale, a ginger ale with a unique taste from South Carolina.

Blenheim Ginger Ale: "Fire Ants"

See More >

Job and Internship Placement 2015

Spradlin Recruiter Session for Jobs Internships AnnouncementsVCU Brandcenter students and graduates are hired by some of the best agencies and companies. Our job placement rate has reached 34% less than a week after graduation, and 65% of first years have already secured summer internships. 

Find out where our Class of 2015 graduates are getting hired and where the Class of 2016 will be interning this summer. 

Class of 2015 Job Placement >

Class of 2016 Internships >

VCU celebrates its top 10 graduates of the last decade

Among those awarded is Brandcenter alum Michael Karnjanaprakorn (Creative Media Planning, 2006) who co-founded Skillshare

by Kristen Caldwell
Office of Development and Alumni Relations

Mike Karnjanprakorn VCU 10 Under 10 CeremonyVirginia Commonwealth University honored 10 graduates of the last decade (GOLD) this past weekend at VCU Alumni’s inaugural 10 Under 10 awards celebration.

The awards celebrate alumni who earned their first VCU degree within the past 10 years and who have enjoyed remarkable professional success, made important contributions to their community and/or loyally supported the university. VCU Alumni presented the awards May 2 at a ceremony held at the School of the Arts’ Depot building.

“These 10 GOLD alumni are exemplary from both an inspirational and an aspirational perspective,” said Gordon McDougall, associate vice president for alumni relations. “VCU President Michael Rao often calls upon the VCU community to commit ourselves to making our world a better place by doing for others, and these alumni have heeded that call.”

Michael Karnjanaprakorn (Creative Media Planning, 2006), Co-Founder of Skillshare

Mike Karnjanaprakorn Headshot 10 Under 10When Michael Karnjanaprakorn was 10 years old, his family moved from South Korea to the U.S. with the dream of sending him to an American college. When he earned the bachelor’s degree in economics that his family had hoped for, he realized he had a diploma, but none of the skills to make a true impact.

Seeking more real-world experiences, he enrolled in the VCU Brandcenter, a graduate school staffed by experts on the front lines of innovation. From the first day, he knew VCU was different. There were no quizzes or exams. He never had to buy a textbook. All the teachers practiced what they taught, and classes were project-based. It changed the way he viewed learning.

After graduation, he realized this unconventional learning could translate to the Web, and that it would benefit millions of people all over the world. He launched the online learning platform Skillshare in 2011 to make that vision a reality: A world where everyone has access to learning.

Today, with $10 million in funding and more than a million enrollments in 1,000-plus classes, Skillshare offers learning opportunities in a variety of fields, from website design to hand lettering. Much like the courses Karnjanaprakorn took at VCU, Skillshare classes are based on real-world projects and collaboration.

As a result of his success, Karnjanaprakorn is a TED Fellow, ranked No. 18 in Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business 2012 list, made Inc.’s 2014 list of 35 Under 35 Coolest Entrepreneurs and landed in Upstart Business Journal’s 2015 Upstart 100 class of rebels, dreamers, contrarians and big thinkers.

See full 10 Under 10 list >

VCU Brandcenter’s John Adams joins Advertising Hall of Fame

John Adams Speaking at Friday Forum for Hall of Fame AnnouncementJohn Adams, chair of the Virginia Commonwealth University Brandcenter’s board of directors, has been elected to the Advertising Hall of Fame, the highest award bestowed within the industry. In receiving this award, he joins an illustrious group of 229 advertising legends, whose inspiration, leadership and accomplishments continue to shape the future of the advertising industry.

‌Adams, one of the founding forces of the VCU Adcenter — the Brandcenter’s predecessor — and chair of the Martin Agency, will also receive the distinguished David Bell Award for Industry Service. Now in its second year, the Bell Award recognizes extraordinary and unique contributions and service to the advertising community and industry as a whole.

The American Advertising Federation will present Adams with these awards at the annual Induction Ceremonies & Gala Dinner on April 20 at The Waldorf Astoria in New York. The Advertising Hall of Fame, now in its 66th year, is among the advertising industry’s biggest, best attended and most prestigious events of the year.


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Cool composting leads Brandcenter students to SXSW

By Leila Ugincius
University Public Affairs
(804) 828-2725

Dirtie App

Two Virginia Commonwealth University Brandcenter students head to the SXSW Interactive Festival next week as finalists in the 60 Seconds to SXSW contest, which asked college students for a 60-second video pitch to get people interested in composting.

Aldo Padilla and Rob Stone will present Dirtie, an app that helps composters connect with their community. The contest’s sponsor, Team Detroit, received submissions from 35 teams representing 16 universities. Judges chose the Dirtie team as one of three finalists to present at the festival, where they will have five minutes to pitch their idea. The winners, whose idea will be produced, will be determined by three judges, and by a current online vote.

“Our goal for this competition was to increase awareness about Team Detroit at portfolio schools and universities with creative-oriented curriculums,” said Traci Armstrong, senior vice president and director of talent acquisition at Team Detroit. “Based on the participation rate — and the effort involved to enter this competition — we have been thrilled with the response.”

Dirtie Community

The Dirtie initiative weaves traditional forms of communication such as stickers, pop-ups and word of mouth with an app that helps users see and interact with other people that compost.

“The No. 1 motivator to do something is knowing that other people around you do it,” Padilla said. “So how do we create a window to see who else is doing it around you? … We thought making an app for people who actually do it to bring them together.

“Some people compost, but they don’t garden. Some people garden, but they don’t compost. So we felt like there could be a community of trading, and it’s an intrinsic social reward. There’s a communal driver behind this.”

That’s where Padilla thought the app would work best, and his instincts paid off.

“We had a few app concept ideas entered into the contest, but our judges were impressed with the comprehensive nature of the Dirtie app, particularly the educational component,” Armstrong said.  

Anyone can build an app, Padilla said, but the challenge for him and Stone was how to get people interested and involved. They evolved their idea into an actual initiative with campaign components with the means to reach people other than expecting people to gravitate to the app.

They figured out a way to start a grassroots campaign using the monster-like microbe characters Stone had created called “dirties” to make it more approachable.

“Seeing how cool compost could look made us run with making these little microbes into something people could relate to and share,” Stone said. “Composting needs something fun and energetic. A lot of green initiatives end up feeling like a chore, and that's something we wanted to get away from. A lot of it feels like a solo endeavor, and there's no immediate reward or way of measuring your contributions. If there was a way of seeing that other people in your immediate surroundings were also doing it, you'd feel more supported and involved.”

View the finalists’ videos and vote >

Dirtie Trade or Share


VCU Brandcenter looks to add three new faculty members

New full-time teaching positions will be added to the Brandcenter's Copywriting, Art Direction and Strategy tracks

The VCU Brandcenter currently has nine faculty members as well as several adjunct professors each semester.  The top rated Master's program for advertising and branding, which is part of VCU's School of Business, will be hiring three new full-time faculty in order to rely less on adjunct faculty.

Please see descriptions below as well as links to apply.

Brandcenter Building Mike Hughes Hall SignCopywriting Professor:

This person is an advertising professional with at least 7 to 10 years of industry experience and who is ready to share his or her knowledge with the next generation of advertising and branding talent. A copywriter whose experience bridges the world of traditional broadcast and print advertising with today’s mobile, social and cross platform opportunities. This individual must be able to inspire and encourage young talent, to teach students of our Copywriting Track how to think creatively and strategically and be able to put that thinking into well-crafted words.

This person must understand concept, concept development and execution, and be able to teach these foundations to our students. This person will ready them for a career in a field that requires big ideas that can translate across all disciplines. This man or woman must be able to translate his or her knowledge into classes that take students from aspiring copywriters to professionals whose work stands out from the thousands of hopefuls all looking to break into the field.

Apply now >

Art Direction Professor:

The Art Direction professor will work with the Brandcenter Director and faculty to help build, teach and promote a unique curriculum offering for graduate students. This position will also recruit adjuncts as necessary.

Apply now >

Strategy Professor:

This position is a senior-level, collateral faculty position in the area of strategy. This faculty member should have solid knowledge and experience in communications planning (or engagement planning), user experience and data analytics as it is deployed in consumer target/persona development, social media research and campaign 

Apply now >

Brandcenter student designs United Way campaign to raise awareness and provide help for victims of human trafficking.

VCU Brandcenter student Zach Lepine, 2nd year art director, was tapped to conceive a United Way Worldwide street campaign at the Super Bowl designed to raise awareness of human trafficking among the one million fans who descended on Phoenix during Super Bowl week.  The campaign also provided resources to victims in need.  United Way street teams disseminated brochures and information directly to fans in Verizon Super Bowl Central located in downtown Phoenix.

Thanks to its more than 40-year partnership with the NFL, UWW also ran an awareness campaign on NFL-donated media on digital billboards in the heart of Verizon Super Bowl Central as well as on in-stadium LED screens on Super Bowl Sunday. The anti-human trafficking messages ran in 8-second clips every minute through Super Bowl as well as inside the stadium on game day. 

"Human trafficking is modern slavery and it happens right here in America. Yet our response remains inadequate to the scale of the problem," said Brian Gallagher, President and CEO of United Way Worldwide. "We need to elevate awareness of this issue so we can take greater action to combat it.  Helping communities find solutions to problems like human trafficking is fundamental to our mission at United Way.  United Way is proud to be working with the NFL at Super Bowl XLIX to raise awareness about this important topic."

Virginia Commonwealth University Brandcenter, one of the nation’s foremost institutions dedicated to fostering creativity in advertising, marketing, digital media and design, provided the creative for the visual campaign which features the message “Just because you don’t see human trafficking doesn’t mean it’s not here,” which appears on the outdoor billboards in Verizon Super Bowl Central.  VCU Brandcenter student, Zach Lepine, under the direction of Associate Professor Geoff McGann, stepped up to the design challenge and conceived the impactful creative to support the cause.

“United Way Worldwide greatly appreciates the contribution of VCU Brandcenter,” said Vicki Lins, Chief Marketing Officer of United Way Worldwide and member of the board of directors of VCU Brandcenter.  “Our goal with the campaign was to create awareness and impact through the use of simple, compelling creative.  The VCU Brandcenter has been recognized as the most innovative business school in the world, so we knew one of its students could deliver outstanding visual storytelling in support of this important cause.”

United Way Worldwide is the national leadership organization for the 2-1-1 network which provides information and referrals for thousands of social services across the country.

Twelve Brandcenter alumni contributed to 2015 Super Bowl commercials

Twelve VCU Brandcenter alumni worked on some of the best commercials of Super Bowl XLIX. Check out these ten spots created by alums and their teams for this year's big game. 

Carvana "Lazy"
Alum: Claire Gipson (AD, 2014)
Agency: goodness Mfg.


Clash of Clans "Revenge"
Alum: Ross Fletcher (AD, 2012)
Agency: Barton F. Graf 9000


Coca-Cola "Make it Happy"
Alum: Jeff Gillette (CW, 2006)
Agency: Weiden+Kennedy Portland


Game of War "Who Am I"
Alumni: David Kennedy (CW, 2006) and Eric Cosper
Agency: Untitled Worldwide


Kia "The Perfect Getaway"
Alum: Steve Yee (AD, 2000)
Agency: davidandgoliath


Loctite "Positive Feelings"
Alum: Jason Bottenus (AD, 2007)
Agency: Fallon


Nationwide "Invisible Mindy Kaling"
Alumni: Jordan Eakin (AD, 2006) and David Sloane (CW, 2011)
Agency: McKinney


Newcastle "Band of Brands"
Alum: Nick Maschmeyer (CS, 2012)
Agency: Droga5


Reebok "Be More Human"
Alum: Eric Boyd (CW, 2006) and Johnny Roeloffs (CS, 2013)
Agency: Venables Bell & Partners


Squarespace "Om-Dreaming with Jeff"
Alum: Jeff Dryer (AD, 2010)
Agency: Wieden+Kennedy NY


Recruiter Session registration and intern requests now open

Registration for the VCU Brandcenter Recruiter Session is now open, and we are now accepting requests for summer interns.

Attend our Recruiter Session: April 29th-30th in Richmond
Come recruit our talented graduating students.
Learn more and register >

Sponsor a Summer Intern
We are now accepting intern requests for our first year students. 
Learn more & request an intern>

Two Brandcenter students chosen to participate in Emerging Creative Summit hosted at VCU

Pulse with Amy McEwanOver 130 students, special guests and faculty mentors from across the country travelled to VCU for the Emerging Creatives Summit Jan. 28-31. The Summit was hosted by VCU School of the Arts, and events were also held at The School of Business, including the Brandcenter, and the da Vinci Center.

The Brandcenter welcomed the group the first evening for their initial group work session. It was an honor to lend our creative space to such a distinguished group of students and guests.

The School of Business was able to nominate two students to participate. Both selected were Brandcenter second years: Amy McEwan, strategist, and Michael Grasewicz, creative brand manager.

The theme for the summit was PULSE: Creative Collaborations for Cities in Flux. By 2050, 67% of the world population will live in cities. Citizens will face uncertainties about equity, creativity and the design of cities to positively serve future generations. Amy, Michael and the other PULSE participants worked in teams to pioneer projects to transform urban landscapes in the coming decades.

See More >

VCU Brandcenter at forefront of next great design movement

Advertising veteran Andrew LeVasseur will lead the Virginia Commonwealth University Brandcenter's new experience design (XD) discipline, which focuses on the industry’s shift from brand communications to brand experiences.

The XD track, offered within the Brandcenter’s master’s program in the VCU School of Business, is accepting applications for fall 2015. The unique curriculum concentrates on the conception, design, prototyping and building of brand experiences that push the envelope of what is technologically possible.

“What an amazing time for our industry as we move from the design of ads to the design of experiences,” LeVasseur said. “I love design. I love the transformative nature of great design. I love that with applied design thinking, we can solve real business problems. And with applied design craft, we can make our collective experiences better.”

Students in the XD track will benefit from a newly appointed experience design studio space at the Brandcenter where they will be able to design, prototype and test their ideas on site.

The industry — including Brandcenter board members Rick Webb and Jeff Steinhour — has already expressed its support.

“The experience design track is the bridge between interaction design and branding,” said Webb, a writer, entrepreneur and investor. “It’s the digital version of planning. The Brandcenter implementing this track is a massive step in ensuring that solid brand management doesn’t lose its way in a world of infinite touch points. That sounds like jargon, but how about this: nerds plus brand in one employee. Beat that.”

Steinhour, managing partner and vice chairman of Crispin, Porter + Bogusky, said, "The experience design track will continue the VCU Brandcenter's passionate commitment to providing the most forward-thinking and innovative curriculum to the future leaders of the branding and communications industry. The real-world learning and experience offered by the Brandcenter is second-to-none and I'm excited to see what they'll do next with this newest track."

LeVasseur has more than 20 years of experience working for leading companies on global brands and applied design solutions. Prior to joining the Brandcenter full-time as chair of the XD track, LeVasseur brought his industry perspective into the classroom as an adjunct professor. He was one of the founders of the creative technology track, from which experience design evolved.

“I truly believe that the VCU Brandcenter is positioned to be at the forefront of the next great design movement,” says LeVasseur. “XD is a movement that combines the smartest minds in business and branding with the best designers and technologists. And I am so excited and humbled to be a part of this community and opportunity.”

“We will continue to embrace change and produce the finest creative marketing and advertising thinkers and doers who will go on to become leaders in their fields,” said Helayne Spivak, director of the Brandcenter. “We have a deep desire to support a next generation of curious, hopeful, inspired and heartfelt students. Those who can build upon what we have accomplished as an industry and iterate, innovate and deliver bigger, bolder, more meaningful and impactful business solutions. I do believe we can change the world for the better. And we are excited to have Andrew here to support that vision.”

LeVasseur has worked for top digital and traditional agencies such as Razorfish in Seattle, Washington, and The Martin Agency in Richmond, Virginia. His brand credits include Barclays, Best Buy, Capella University, Capital One, Harrah’s Entertainment, Hawaiian Airlines, Holland America, Microsoft, Michelin – BFGoodrich, Verizon FiOS and Weight Watchers. His focus areas include brand strategy, user experience design, information architecture, interaction design, software, information systems and process design, and applied research and analytics.


See More >

Spring 2015 Friday Forum Schedule Announced

Check out the Spring 2015 Friday Forum schedule below and learn more on our Friday Forum page. 


Spring 2015 Friday Forum Schedule Image

VCU Brandcenter presents TECH+Toys

New series brings together technology and creativity

By Andrew LeVasseur
VCU Brandcenter

Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014

The Virginia Commonwealth University Brandcenter launches its TECH+ series with TECH+Toys, an open house and exhibit where the school’s master’s degree candidates will demonstrate the relationship between creativity, design and technology by making and sharing toys.

Tech+Toys AnnouncementThe inaugural event will be held at the VCU Brandcenter, 103 S. Jefferson St., on Friday, Dec. 5, from 4 to 6 p.m.

CodeVA and World of Mirth have partnered with the VCU Brandcenter to present TECH+Toys, which brings awareness to the integral role that science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) play in fostering a well-rounded education for students in Virginia.

‌Master’s candidates at the VCU Brandcenter will display original toy ideas that demonstrate the creative application of technology in the process of toy design or in the actual toy itself. The two-hour open house at the VCU Brandcenter will feature “playable” toy exhibits, show-and-tell by the toymakers and a “make-and-take” toy giveaway with CodeVA.

“Through programs like TECH+Toys, we hope to instill a sense of wonder and inspire a new generation of creative thinkers, designers and technologists,” said Andrew LeVasseur, head of the Creative Technology track at the VCU Brandcenter.

The toys on display will be judged by a panel of experts from World of Mirth, CodeVA and VCU Brandcenter faculty, as well as parents and children. Selected toys will be on display at World of Mirth in Carytown during the holiday shopping season.

TECH+Toys is the first event in the TECH+ program, a new community engagement series sponsored by the VCU Brandcenter. Future events such as TECH+Music and TECH+Fashion will be held in 2015. The goal of the TECH+ series is to showcase the potential for technology to enrich daily life.

VCU Brandcenter and Virginia Tourism Corporation to celebrate "45 Years of Virginia is for Lovers"

The VCU Brandcenter and the Virginia Tourism Corporation present:

“45 Years of Virginia is for Lovers”
A panel discussion and reception celebrating the 45th anniversary of Virginia’s official tourism slogan.
5:30pm-8pm, Monday, Dec. 1st (Panel discussion from 5:30-7pm. Light reception to follow.)
VCU Brandcenter Lecture Hall
103 S. Jefferson St., Richmond, VA 23284

Panelists include four of the creative professionals who developed the campaign: 
John T. Boatright, Account Executive at Martin & Woltz, 1968-1973
Libby Phillips Meggs, Art Director at Martin & Woltz, 1965-1971 
Marshall E. Murdaugh, Commissioner of the Virginia State Travel Service, 1971-1984
George R. Woltz, Founding Partner and Creative Director at Martin & Woltz, 1965-1975

Panel Moderator:
Kelly O'Keefe, VCU Brandcenter Professor

45 Years of Virginia is for Lovers


"45 Years of Virginia is for Lovers" PDF

Summer 2014 alumni newsletter now available

The VCU Brandcenter Summer 2014 Alumni Newsletter is now available. Catch up on what's been going on at the Brandcenter and with our alumni. 

Meet the Class of 2016

This fall are excited to welcome 107 new faces in the Class of 2016. Our incoming class hails from all over the world - places like Germany, China, India, Vietnam, London, Texas, Florida, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Ohio and California.  Undergraduate majors were equally diverse and ranged from History and Anthropology to Sculpture and Commerce. 

Here are the stats for the Class of 2016:

Average Age: 25Class of 2016 Orientation Day

49% Female

51% Male

49% In-state

51% Out-of-state (including 7% International)

28% Minority

74% Has had a year of more of prior work experience

26% Joined straight from undergrad

Average GPA: 3.26

Most popular undergrad majors: Communications and Psychology

Welcome, and good luck on the challenging sixty weeks ahead of you!

Eleven Brandcenter information sessions set for Fall 2014

The VCU Brandcenter has scheduled eleven information sessions during the Fall 2014 semester for anyone interested in learning more about our Master's program.

Admissions representatives and current students will discuss our five tracks/concentrations and our admissions process and show student/alumni work, followed by a Q&A panel. The sessions will end with a tour of the Brandcenter's award-winning building, Mike Hughes Hall. 

Register Now >

Class of 2014 Reaches 70% Job Placement

As of July 23rd, the VCU Brandcenter Class of 2014 has reached 70% job placement.  

Class of 2014 Class Pic

Here is where our recent grads have been hired:

Art Directors:
Lauren Albee - Omelet, Los Angeles
Caitlin Bradley - co:collective, New York
Andrew Chin - Mother, New York
Nomin Enkhbold - mcgarrybowen, New York
Claire Gipson, goodness Mfg., Los Angeles
Steve Gonzalez - Wieden+Kennedy, New York
Hannah Gormanlove - Wieden+Kennedy, New York
Frank Guzzone - Mother, New York
Karlin Lichtenberger - 22squared, Tampa
Nomi Malik - R/GA, Los Angeles
Toliver Roebuck - Wieden+Kennedy, New York
Nicole Smith - Push, Orlando
Emily Uram - R/GA, New York
Blair Warren - Wieden+Kennedy, New York
Amy Wheeler - Droga5, New York
Amanda Younger - McGarrah Jessee, Austin

Communications Strategists:
Marie Adams - ICF International, Richmond
Beth Beckman - iCrossing, New York
Jeremy Chacich - Peterson Milla Hooks, Minneapolis
Cierra Dobson - Wieden+Kennedy, New York
Rod Kashani - R/GA, Los Angeles
Whitney Keller - 72andSunny, Los Angeles
Katie Long - R/GA, New York
Marie Matuszewski - Publicis, Seattle
Marisa Perrazzelli - Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco

Creative Brand Managers:
Eliza Arnold - Capital One, Richmond
Issamu Kamide - Nestle, Los Angeles
Jonathan Sekerak - CP+B, Boulder
Lauren Ulmer - Diamond Candles, Durham
Casey Williams - Zeus Jones, San Francisco

Creative Technologists:
Bear Collins - BBDO, New York
Karen Hymes - Publicis, Seattle
Brian Laiche - Imulus, Boulder
Hex Marquez - Lowe Campbell Ewald, Detroit
Soheil Oliaei - Butler, Shine, Stern + Partners, Sausalito
Christine Pizzo - Digitas, Boston
Donnie Plumly - Team One, Los Angeles
Matt Reamer - Team One, Los Angeles
Jade Sullivan - Wieden+Kennedy, New York
Owen Weeks - mcgarrybown, New York
Chad Woods - Publicis, Seattle

Sam Bauer - Droga5, New York
Jimmy Burton - Venables Bell & Partners, San Francisco
Ally Farrish - Mother, New York
Katie Johnston - DDB, San Francisco
Blakeley Jones - Omelet, Los Angeles
Demian Kendall - Pereira & O'Dell, San Francisco
Chase Kimball - Barton F. Graf 9000, New York
Liz Loudy - R/GA, New York
Steve Nass - Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco
Trong Nguyen - Taxi, New York
Hunter Pinnell - Innocean, Huntington Beach
Erin Ridgeway - Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners, Sausalito
Garrick Sheldon - Wieden+Kennedy, New York
Gabe Sherman - Wieden+Kennedy, New York

The scream seen 'round the world

The story behind “Teddy Goalsevelt” is a funny one. It starts with Mike D’Amico losing his job.


You may not know his name, but you definitely know Mike D’Amico’s face. Better known as Teddy Goalsevelt, D’Amico is the World Cup fan who shot to fame by emulating the rough-riding 26th president of the United States. Teddy became an immediate Internet favorite thanks to his impassioned war cry.

Teddy GoalseveltBut if you think becoming a viral Internet sensation is easy, you have another think coming, according to the VCU Brandcenter alumnus.

In fact, D’Amico suggests the headline of this story should read “Random coincidence makes man famous.”

So how did D’Amico — who wasn’t even a soccer fan five years ago — become the “most epic fan at the World Cup?”

“That’s actually kind of a funny story,” he said. “So the story starts with me getting laid off in September, which at the time was pretty rough.”

He spent a couple of weeks with no income before he started freelancing, which, he says, in advertising pays better than a salary. He quickly went from making a “comfortable” living to making what seemed like “a crazy amount of money,” which he started saving for nothing in particular.

In November, D’Amico received an email from the American Outlaws, the supporter group for the U.S. soccer team that organizes trips to the World Cup for hundreds of U.S. soccer fans each year.

“I had almost forgotten about the fact that a couple of years ago I had signed up for the waitlist for their trip,” D’Amico said. “I had applied … thinking it would never happen. I got this email saying, ‘If you want to go, we need you to send us $5,000 in a month.’

“So [there I was] with some extra money sitting in the bank and this email here in front of me saying, ‘Hey, you have the right amount to go to Brazil,’ and at that point I talked to some other people and I’m like, ‘This is fate, right? This is definitely not a coincidence.’ Everyone agreed, so I went ahead and spent the money and now here I am.”

“Here” is Brazil, where D’Amico is having the time of his life reveling not so much in his newfound fame as in the attention that fame has brought to a sport he loves.

“The one thing that I keep trying to reiterate is that I’m just a crazy person who got lucky,” he said. “There were enough people interested in and watching U.S. soccer that an image of me being a lunatic can go viral. That’s really my favorite part.”

Teddy Goalsevelt pointingIt should be noted that it’s also a coincidence that D’Amico is a soccer fan at all.

“I am a very passionate sports fan in general. And that’s part of the reason I ended up getting involved in soccer because … you see the entire planet aside from a few countries that are so passionate about soccer — it’s like all of our sports combined. … And I’m saying to myself, ‘There’s got to be something. There’s something I’m missing.’ … The 2010 World Cup was completely out of control, crazy, over the top for U.S. fans for excitement, drama and everything, and so at that point, I said ‘Enough is enough. I need to give this a legitimate chance.’

“I gave myself what I call a soccer boot camp, because I think the thing that was separating me from being a fan was lack of knowledge. I just didn’t really understand the game. So what used to look boring to me, now that I understand what’s happening, is more interesting. So for one month in the summer of 2010, all I allowed myself to any media – reading, listening, watching, it had to be soccer related; that was the rule. And I went in being a casual USA World Cup soccer fan, and I came out being a world professional soccer fan.”

That kind of dedication and passion made D’Amico right at home in his days as a student at the Brandcenter, which is now part of the VCU School of Business.

“There’s a reason why no one was surprised that I was a VCU Brandcenter alum,” said D’Amico, who graduated in 2007 from the Brandcenter’s art direction track. “Because the people there are some of the most fun and outgoing and creative and amazing people that I’ve had the pleasure of being around. So I think being in that environment and being able to soak up some of that from some of the more talented, more interesting, more creative people, to me, really changed the trajectory of my whole career and my whole life. It’s a more interesting, more open lens that you see things through.”

But still we wonder: Why Teddy Roosevelt of all people?

D’Amico knew he wanted to do something fun that would get people excited.

“I thought about it more and more and finally it just hit me: Teddy Roosevelt,” D’Amico said. “Of all the presidents, of all the cultural icons, from movies, TV, to whatever in the history of the U.S., I don’t think there’s a better character that you want leading your country, your team, your fans into battle in the middle of the jungle than Teddy Roosevelt.”

Will Teddy ride again after the World Cup?

“This is all so new, I haven’t really thought past tomorrow,” D’Amico said. “But for now, Teddy is a dedicated U.S. soccer supporter and he will be at every match he can make it to.”

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OutRVA team receives congratulatory letter from Senator Mark Warner

The VCU Brandcenter students who created the OutRVA campaign to celebrate Richmond's LGBT community have received the following letter of congratulations from United States Senator Mark Warner upon receiving an RVA Creativity Award.

OutRVA letter from Mark Warner


Getting the World Out

VCU Brandcenter students create Out RVA to celebrate Richmond’s LGBT community

Bill Harrison, CEO of the Gay Community Center of Richmond, sometimes encounters skepticism from gay friends when he speaks about the welcoming atmosphere that they can expect in Richmond. He said those who have never visited the city frequently perceive it to be a much less tolerant place than Harrison and many others believe it to be. The question of how to correct that feeling is one that has puzzled city advocates. So they put the question to students at the Virginia Commonwealth University Brandcenter, one of the most highly regarded graduate advertising and marketing communications programs in the country.

Students there came up with a unique response: The city should formally come “out of the closet” as LGBT friendly. The result is the Out RVA campaign, an ambitious effort developed by students and managed by Richmond Region Tourism to market the Richmond area as a tolerant and congenial place for the LGBT community. The campaign launched earlier this year with a website (, video and on-the-ground marketing efforts and will transition this fall into a major advertising push targeting potential visitors in major cities around the country.


The early response to Out RVA has been enthusiastic. Several media outlets have reported on the campaign, local residents have participated and helped spread the message through social media, and businesses have stocked free “Out” stickers and displayed them in their windows. In May, Out RVA was named one of 10 winners of the first-ever RVA Creativity Awards, which recognize the area’s top examples of creativity, originality, imagination and risk-taking. The Brandcenter students and Out RVA also were honored by the Richmond Business Alliance, which supports businesses and professionals affirming to the LGBT community.

“I think it’s been extraordinary,” Harrison said. “I think this has a lot of potential to bring more people to Richmond and to help the area feel a bit more welcoming. I hope this campaign has an effect locally, too, and shows people that this is the right direction for us to be moving in. We want to show that we are an inclusive place.”

Katherine O’Donnell, vice president of community relations for Richmond Region Tourism, said the Out RVA campaign is a culmination of work that began four years ago when Richmond Region Tourism, the tourism office for Richmond and surrounding communities, began a concerted effort to market the area to the LGBT community.

O’Donnell took the challenge to the Brandcenter, part of the VCU School of Business, this past academic year. Kelly O’Keefe, professor of creative brand management, had helped steer the creation of RVA, the wildly successful Richmond marketing effort that Brandcenter students played a major role in developing, and this time he put up the project to students as an opportunity to volunteer to work on it – not as part of a class, but just in their free time. Several Brandcenter students stepped forward, forming interdisciplinary teams that included students from each of the program’s graduate tracks – art direction, copywriting, communications strategy, creative brand management and creative technology.

The teams pitched their campaigns, and Out RVA emerged as the brightest idea, though O’Donnell said the project ultimately incorporates components of each of the student teams’ efforts. The Out RVA team included second-year students Jimmy Burton, Frank Guzzone, Trey Keeler, Liam Schaefer and Blair Warren.

The campaign launched earlier this year, and the students themselves were central not only to its design but to its initial implementation. They created the website and video (“It’s time to see the LGBT community we’re proud to call our own. And the people who rise up to support it.”), handed out stickers, spoke with business owners and local community members, and oversaw social media outreach. O’Donnell said the students managed an “organic” launch to Out RVA that felt natural and helped create an early groundswell of support for it. At the outset, she said, “they were the ones who were doing everything.”

“The students have done so much more than just come up with an idea,” O’Donnell said. “They stayed on and put in a lot of work on the project.”

Guzzone said he quickly fell in love with Richmond when he moved to the city to enroll in the Brandcenter, and he was pleased to have a chance to help burnish its image. Keeler, a local native, said he found that the negative views of the city he sometimes heard from others did not match his own experiences. There was, he said, “a disconnect.”

The students decided that the disconnect meant that they could not simply design a straightforward marketing campaign. “That wasn’t going to convince people to visit if they already had a negative view of the city,” he said. Instead, he said, they needed to lay the groundwork for a more traditional campaign with something that targeted existing impressions and sought to change them. They would need to show the city “the way it is, not the way people think it is,” Guzzone said.

“We decided to be the first-ever city to come out,” Keeler said. “It means more for a city like Richmond than it would for somewhere like New York or San Francisco – places that have been out. It’s more surprising.”

As the students navigated the soft launch of the campaign, they were pleased to see immediate signs of support. A first issue of 800 Out stickers, which fit neatly alongside the ubiquitous RVA stickers, was gone in a week. Then 2,500 stickers vanished just as quickly. Finally, an order of 5,000 stickers disappeared.

When the students visited businesses about stocking the stickers, they invariably received positive replies. Guzzone said he expected more resistance, but even businesses they approached somewhat warily were excited to participate.

Soon, Out RVA received emotional personal responses – from as far away as Australia – contributing to the campaign and thanking organizers for its existence, as well as requests from around the state for the stickers. The #OutRVA hashtag became entrenched in local social media.

“People just want to be a part of this,” Guzzone said.

Part of the appeal of Out RVA, O’Donnell said, is that it fits so well with the experiences of LGBT individuals. Coming out to family and friends is a significant milestone. Consequently, Out RVA has created a forum for locals to share their own stories of coming out. The campaign is clear and deceptively simple, O’Donnell said.

Keeler and Guzzone said it was gratifying to view the response, particularly the way people made the campaign their own – the same way locals latched onto the RVA effort before it. Out RVA, Guzzone said, would continue to grow and develop without them, though the team will keep tabs on it.

When Guzzone chose to attend the VCU Brandcenter, he was well aware of the RVA campaign and its widespread adoption in the Richmond metro area. He knew that the Brandcenter gives its students the opportunity to take on community projects and create campaigns with real-world effects. So when O’Keefe offered the chance to take on a similar project, he was eager to participate.

Guzzone said the campaign was the highlight of his Brandcenter years. When recruiters visited campus, it was the project he could not stop talking about.

“This was important for me,” Guzzone said. “Touching people’s lives directly has been beyond great.”

O’Donnell said one of her favorite parts of the Out RVA idea is that it is authentic. Harrison said he appreciates that the campaign does not pigeonhole the LBGT population in its effort to reach out to it. Trying to attract LGBT tourists is not about attempting to suggest to them that there are activities and attractions particular to them here, O’Donnell and Harrison said. “Gay tourists like what other tourists like,” Harrison said. “Good food, good culture, fun things to do.”

Harrison said he was impressed with the boldness of Richmond Region Tourism in embracing the campaign and the intelligence and know-how of the students who engineered it. “I’m so proud of VCU,” he said. “It’s absolutely typical of the way the university steps up to the plate here.” These five students, he said, have made a lasting impact with their work.

“They’ve done this city an extraordinary favor,” he said.

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Five Brandcenter Teams Sweep VCU da Vinci Center's Venture Creation Contest

VCU Brandcenter was expecting good news Wednesday, when the finals of the VCU da Vinci Center's annual Venture Creation Competition took place. All five finalist teams in the graduate division were comprised of Brandcenter students. 

The competition encourages VCU students to come up with a concept, idea or technology and explore the steps necessary to move it towards a new venture. Five finalist teams in each division (graduate and undergraduate) are selected to pitch to judges made up of venture capitalists. 

Venture Creation Competition 5 ChecksFirst place (and $4,000) went to Karen Hymes, a second-year student in the creative technology track, with her concept, "Tagather," a social shopping platform where consumers tag recent purchases in images they take to earn rewards in the form of coupons and gift cards. Tagather also provides businesses with a current conversation around purchased items, consumer to consumer marketing, consumer wants and needs, and more accurate consumer analytics.

Second place ($3,000) went to Team Vida's idea to transform “throw away” produce, too imperfect to live up to consumers' expectations of the produce section, into delicious, all-natural fruit and vegetable bars. Team members include:

  • Jonathan Sekerak,VCU Brandcenter, Creative Brand Management, Class of 2014
  • Garrick Sheldon, VCU Brandcenter, Copywriting, Class of 2014
  • Plautz Rick, VCU Brandcenter, Art Direction, Class of 2014
  • Wynn Buzzell (non-VCU student)

Third place ($2,000) went to "Memento," a smart wristband that connects directly to a networking app and keeps a record of the people that a user meets through a simple trigger: the handshake. This provides an effortless way for business professionals to connect during large events such as conferences. Team members include:

  • Toliver Roebuck, VCU Brandcenter, Art Direction, Class of 2014
  • Demian Kendall, VCU Brandcenter, Copywriting, Class of 2014
  • Lauren Ulmer, VCU Brandcenter, Creative Brand Management, Class of 2014
  • Skylar Roebuck, VCU Alumni

Runners up ($1,000 each): 

Southern Cream Tea, an RTD beverage taking the addicting elixir of the South, and one-upping it with cream. It is brewed black tea, sweetened with simple syrup, blended with 2% low-temp pasteurized milk and served cold. The blend will be a carefully tested ratio of 65/35 tea to milk and finally vacuum packed in glass to preserve freshness. The milk will be sourced from local dairy farms, and pasteurized at the lower temperature than nationally distributed milk to retain thickness, richness, and host of nutrients without the fat. The tea would be sourced from the only remaining tea plantation in the U.S., the Charleston Tea Company, to reduce costs as well as to evoke Southern pride. Team members include:

  • Marisa Impellizzeri, VCU Brandcenter, Creative Brand Management, Class of 2014
  • Katie Long, VCU Brandcenter, Communication Strategy, Class of 2014

Gametrotter: With nearly half of American households having two or more gaming platforms, not being able to find friends when a gamer switches games or consoles is frustrating. Our solution is Gametrotter, a mobile-based social network that allows users to search for friends using character names, user names, or real names. Team members include:

  • Samuel Hensley, VCU Brandcenter,  Creative Brand Management, Class of 2014
  • CJ Milhoan, VCU Brandcenter,  Creative Brand Management, Class of 2014
  • Garrett Lyons, VCU Brandcenter,  Creative Brand Management, Class of 2015
  • Chad Woods, VCU Brandcenter, Creative Technology, Class of 2014
  • Nelson Johnson, VCU Brandcenter, Creative Technology, Class of 2015

Congratulations to all five Brandcenter teams! 

Brandcenter Students' #TBT Campaign for Clear Channel Launches

Clear Channel launched a Brandcenter student campaign today on digital billboards in New York, Miami, Chicago, and Los Angeles. The project uses the Instagram holiday "Throwback Thursday" to capture people's stories and memories of their cities and neighborhoods over time.

If you live in any of these areas, keep an eye on the digital boards and feel free to submit your old stories and photos. The Instagram hashtag for the project is tbt + the city's main area code (so #tbt212 for New York and so on). 

The second-year student team includes copywriter Demian Kendall and art directors Karlin Lichtenberger and Michelle Grant. 

Clear Channel #TBT Billboard‌‌

Three Brandcenter board members inducted into AAF Hall of Fame

Three VCU Brandcenter board members will be inducted into the American Advertising Federation's Hall of Fame this evening.

Congratulations to the following:

Bob Greenberg, Founder, Chairman and CEO of R/GA, and member of the Brandcenter board of directors

John Hegarty, Chairman of Bartle, Bogle and Hegarty, and member of the Brandcenter advisory board 

Mike Hughes (1948-2013), former President and Creative Director of The Martin Agency and founding chairman of the Brandcenter board of directors

Bob Greenberg, John Hegarty, Mike Hughes AAF Hall of Fame
Greenberg, Hegarty, and Hughes

The AAF Hall of Fame "is a virtual museum celebrating the extraordinary men and women who have made significant contributions to advertising and society. Each has helped raise the standards and level of professionalism in the industry, while inspiring and mentoring future generations, laying the groundwork that encourages us all to strive for excellence."

We are so proud of our board members who are receiving this honor.  

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Martin Agency chair shares lessons and regrets from past 40 years

One Regret: never having been laid off


Martin Agency chair presents ‘The Advice I’d Give If I Were Inclined To Give Advice’

Plaque honoring John Adams, chair of the VCU Brandcenter, will be unveiled

University Public Affairs
(804) 828-2725

The Virginia Commonwealth University Brandcenter Friday Forum this week features John Adams, chairman of the Brandcenter Board of Directors and chairman of The Martin Agency, who will have a plaque unveiled in his honor following the talk during a private reception.

Adams has been a supporter of the Brandcenter since its inception as the VCU Adcenter. While much of his role over the years has been behind the scenes, his support, encouragement and knowledge were instrumental in its growth. The school is fortunate to now have Adams appointed as its board chairman. The plaque honoring Adams will hang alongside former honorees Harry Jacobs, chairman emeritus of The Martin Agency, and Ed Ney, chairman emeritus of Young & Rubicam Advertising, on the "Wall of Inspiration” in the VCU Brandcenter’s building, Mike Hughes Hall, which is named for Adams' former partner at The Martin Agency.

Adams will present “The Advice I’d Give If I Were Inclined To Give Advice” on Friday, March 21, at11 a.m. at the VCU Brandcenter, 103 S. Jefferson St.  Adams will share in 40 minutes the most valuable things he’s learned in 40 years. This presentation is free and open to the public.

Following the presentation, a private reception with John’s friends, family and colleagues as well as Brandcenter students and faculty will take place as the plaque is unveiled. During the reception, a few words will be shared on John’s behalf by Helayne Spivak, director of the VCU Brandcenter, who will read a few words from VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D., and fellow honoree Harry Jacobs, chairman emeritus of The Martin Agency.

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Brandcenter students launch #OutRVA campaign

This week, a team of Brandcenter second year students launched #OutRVA, a project for LGBT Tourism in Richmond.

Blair Warren, art director, Frank Guzzone, art director, Jimmy Burton, copywriter, Trey Keeler, creative brand manager, and Liam Schaefer, brand strategist, worked on the project for Professor Kelly O'Keefe's Brand Campaigns class, and the organization loved their ideas so much they produced them.

Check out the video below as well as the website,

Watch three Winter Olympics Commercials by Brandcenter Alumni

Now that the Winter Olympics in Sochi have come to a close, take a look back at some of the Olympic and Paralympic-themed commercials by Brandcenter alumni:  

Citi: "Long Shot" 
Alum: Mark Svartz (CW, 2002), Freelance Creative Director/Copywriter
Alum: Jon Bunning (AD, 2002), Freelance Art Director/Photographer


P&G: "Tough Love"
Alum: Susan Land (AD, 2010), Art Director at Wieden + Kennedy
Alum: Erin Swanson (CT, 2011) Writer at Wieden + Kennedy


Hilton: "Weekend" featuring Ashley Wagner
Alum: Kat Ford Scaglione (AD, 2010), Art Director at Publicis

Watch 9 Super Bowl Commercials by VCU Brandcenter Alumni

Eleven VCU Brandcenter alums worked on nine Super Bowl (plus one Puppy Bowl) commercials in this year's big game. Take a look at their spots below, and see what Brandcenter students and alumni are saying about the commercials using hashtag #BCBigGame.


Heinz Ketchup "Hum"
Alum: Kristopher Kennedy (CW, 2009)
Copywriter at Cramer-Krasselt in Chicago


Chobani "How Matters"
Alum: Karen Land Short (AD, 2008)
Copywriter at Droga5, NYC


Carmax "Slow Clap" + Puppy Version
Alum: Jillian Dresser (AD, 2008)
Art Director at Silver + Partners, NYC
Alum: Howard Finkelstein (CW, 2005)
Creative Director at Silver + Partners, NYC
Alum: Casey Rand (CW, 2008)
Copywriter at Droga5, NYC, but the spot was done when she was at Silver + Partners, NYC



KIA "The Truth"
Alum: Mike Wilson (AD, 2011)
Art Director at David & Goliath, LA


US Cellular "Hello Better" (running in spot markets)
Alum: Lauren Geisler (AD, 2010)
Art Director at Mullen, Boston


WeatherTech floor mats for cars
Alum: Tom Wilson (CW, 1998)
Creative Director at JWT, Atlanta, but the spot was done when he was freelancing


Jaguar "British Villains"
Alum: Joseph Quattrone (CBM, 2008)
Group Account Director/Social Media Strategist at GroupM / M80 


Volkswagen "Wings"
Alum: Marika Wiggan (CS, 2010)
Brand Strategist at Argonaut, San Francisco


T-Mobile "What can Tim Tebow do with #nocontract?"
Alum: Neil Slotterback (CBM, 2010)
Strategist at Butler, Shine, Stern + Partners

VCU Brandcenter tapped for commentary on Super Bowl commercials

VCU Brandcenter has become the place to turn for commentary on Super Bowl commercials, especially in the Richmond area. The local community looks to the Brandcenter for insights on what makes a great Super Bowl ad and which advertisers are doing it right. 

This year, Director Helayne Spivak was invited to be a guest on ESPN Radio 950's "Hardly Workin' with Greg Burton" for an interview with VCU Athletic Director Ed McLaughlin as a Super Bowl preview. Brandcenter Professor Kelly O'Keefe was interviewed on the WRVA 1140 morning show the morning after the big game. The Richmond Ad Club has also invited Helayne, Kelly, professor Cabell Harris and alum Adam Stockton (AD, 2003) to sit on its Advertising Bowl panel Tuesday.

You can also see Brandcenter students' and alumni tweets about the commercials using #BCBigGame.

Ed McLaughlin interviews VCU Brandcenter Director Helayne Spivak on ESPN Radio 950


Gary Hess interviews Brandcenter Professor Kelly O'Keefe on WRVA 1140


Winter 2014 Alumni Newsletter Now Available

The VCU Brandcenter Winter 2014 Alumni Newsletter is now available. Catch up on what's been going on at the Brandcenter and with our alumni. 

Look for Nine Super Bowl XLVIII Spots from Brandcenter Alumni

If you watch the commercials as closely as the big game, keep an eye out for the nine Super Bowl XLVIII spots that Brandcenter alumni have worked on:

Heinz Ketchup
Alum: Kristopher Kennedy (CW, 2009)
Copywriter at Cramer-Krasselt in Chicago

Alum: Karen Land Short (AD, 2008)
Copywriter at Droga5, NYC

Alum: Jillian Dresser (AD, 2008)
Art Director at Silver + Partners, NYC
Alum: Howard Finkelstein (CW, 2005)
Creative Director at Silver + Partners, NYC
Alum: Casey Rand (CW, 2008)
Copywriter at Droga5, NYC, but the spot was done when she was at Silver + Partners, NYC

Alum: Mike Wilson (AD, 2011)
Art Director at David & Goliath, LA

US Cellular (running in spot markets)
Alum: Lauren Geisler (AD, 2010)
Art Director at Mullen, Boston

WeatherTech floor mats for cars
Alum: Tom Wilson (CW, 1998)
Creative Director at JWT, Atlanta, but the spot was done when he was freelancing

Alum: Joseph Quattrone (CBM, 2008)
Group Account Director/Social Media Strategist at GroupM / M80 

Alum: Marika Wiggan (CS, 2010)
Brand Strategist at Argonaut, San Francisco

Alum: Neil Slotterback (CBM, 2010)
Strategist at Butler, Shine, Stern + Partners

Registration open for the VCU Brandcenter Recruiter Session: Apr. 23-24th

Registration is now open for the annual VCU Brandcenter Recruiter Session, Apr. 23-24th, 2014, at the Brandcenter in Richmond, Virginia.

Our Recruiter Session is set up like a reverese career fair, where the graduating students from our five tracks are able to show their work and meet with visiting recruiters. We are grateful for all of our industry support and look forward to having everyone.

If your agency or company is interested in attending the VCU Brandcenter Recruiter Session, you can see more details and register here.   

Request a Brandcenter Summer Intern

The VCU Brandcenter is now taking requests for summer interns.

Our students can intern from mid-May through mid-August over the summer between their first and second years at the Brandcenter. If your agency or company is interested in hiring a Brandcenter summer intern this year, please see more details and fill out our intern request form here.  

Dates are set for six Brandcenter information sessions this spring

The VCU Brandcenter will hold six information sessions this spring for anyone interested in our Master's program.

* Learn about the VCU Brandcenter Master's program and its 5 tracks: Art Direction, Copywriting, Creative Technology, Communications Strategy, and Creative Brand Management
* Hear from current Brandcenter students on a Q&A panel
* Take a tour of the Brandcenter
* Speak with an admissions representative

Spring 2014 Information Session Dates
Please register for the date you wish to attend.

Friday, Jan. 24th, 2pm-3:30pm REGISTER

Monday, Jan. 27th, 6:30-8pm   REGISTER

Friday, Feb. 21st, 2pm-3:30pm REGISTER

Monday, Feb. 24th, 6:30-8pm   REGISTER

Friday, Mar. 21st, 2pm-3:30pm REGISTER

Monday, Mar. 24th, 6:30-8pm   REGISTER 

VCU Brandcenter Lecture Hall 
103 S. Jefferson Street
Richmond, VA 23284

Guests who will be driving may either street park for free along Cary or Canal, which run along either side of our building, or pay to park in the visitor's lot (JL Lot) on 200 W. Cary Street.

Contact Admissions Coordinator Hawley Smyth,

Can't make any of these dates?
Schedule a one-on-one meeting with Admissions Coordinator Hawley Smyth:

We look forward to meeting you!

See Admissions Information >

Mike Hughes Hall

A Message from VCU Brandcenter Director Helayne Spivak to the Brandcenter Students

Every day we enter Mike Hughes Hall.

Every day, several times a day, we pass by the very large painting of Mike displayed against the brick wall watching over us.

I'm sure some of you might have heard that Mike Hughes passed away after a 15 year battle with lung cancer.  No one lives 15 years with stage 4 lung cancer.  Mike did.  With an extra year thrown in for good measure.‌

Mike Hughes Mural in VCU Brandcenter StairwayWhen you all get back from break…the first time you go through our doors in 2014, please go right to that big picture and say a silent thank you to Mike Hughes.

He helped our Founding Director build this school.

He was our first Board Chairman.

He was our champion in the community.

He was our advisor and friend.

He was a great man who loved great thinking, great work and great works.

He asked just one thing of his friends, family and thousands of far-flung close acquaintances: "Enjoy every minute of your life" and "keep me in your thoughts."

Let's all do what he asked.  



VCU Brandcenter Application for Fall 2014 Admission is Now Available

The 2014 application is now available for request on the Brandcenter Admissions page. We will begin receiving applications January 6th.  

Creating RVA: How VCU Brandcenter students helped craft the logo that took the city by storm

University Public Affairs
(804) 828-6051

Katie Chapin knew they had a good idea. She just didn't know how good. Chapin was part of a team of students in the VCU Brandcenter wrestling with a project for a local branding effort. Venture Richmond, an organization devoted to enhancing the vitality of the Richmond community, was exploring ways to brand Richmond as a way of building pride within the city and attracting attention outside of it.

Chapin’s class had been tapped to develop concepts. Chapin and her partners, who included Jarrod Higgins, Michael Whitten, Cecilia Bogardus, Pankaj Rawat and Sara Cobaugh, had come up with a deceptively simple concept: A logo with the letters “RVA” that was a sort of blank canvas, open to interpretation by artists, businesses, organizations, anyone who wanted to place their own personal stamp on it. The idea, they figured, was that the brand would be the community’s in the most authentic way possible.

“It was a way to give people a chance to own that term,” Chapin said. “Richmond means different things to different people.”

Years after the idea was born, the RVA brand – with its distinctively overlapping letters – is everywhere. Bumper stickers, T-shirts, posters, signs, store windows, business logos, on the side of the city’s garbage trucks and police cars, as ubiquitous in the suburbs as it is Downtown. Residents take the brand with them when they leave town, and it is often spotted far outside the city’s borders, such as when eagle-eyed locals caught sight of it on a musician’s case on Saturday Night Live.

The logo is integrated in myriad ways into not just official city efforts but into small and large projects that simply boast Richmond as their home. The RVA term that was formerly used only by the creative class has become a type of citywide rallying cry – a knowing shorthand for residents and others, taken to goosebump-raising heights in Richmond-based NO BS! Brass Band’s “RVA All Day” – and the effect on metropolitan pride is undeniable. Outsiders have taken notice, such as in the form of plaudits from such entities as Fast Company, a magazine devoted to cutting-edge business practices, and CEOs for Cities, a civic innovation lab and network of urban leaders looking for new ways to improve American cities.


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Brandcenter Alumni Freelance Directory Now Available

Results from the Alumni Salary Survey conducted by the Brandcenter last winter showed that around 8% of VCU Brandcenter alumni freelance. Since we often get requests from recruiters for freelancers, we developed a directory where recruiters could search our alumni freelancers and freelancers themselves could search for possible partners.  

The VCU Brandcenter Freelance Directory is now available, and it's searchable by discipline or location. Please share with anyone who might have freelance needs!

Alumni who would like to be included in the Freelance Directory can contact Ashley Sommardahl at

Brandcenter students' "Cap the Tap" win Best of Show in Adweek's 2016 Project Isaac Awards

Four VCU Brandcenter 2016 grads and their teammate won Best of Show (Student Category) for Adweek's Project Isaac Awards this year for their "Cap the Tap" idea for Dasani.

The Project Isaac Awards celebrate the best student designed inventions, new products and concepts. The four students and their teammate from San Diego City College tackled the problem of California experiencing it's worst drought in over 1,000 years. Their idea for Dasani involves creating specially marked bottles of water with newly designed bottle caps that can attach to a standard-issue kitchen spout. The cap increases the water pressure of the faucet and reduces the average faucet flow rate from 2.2 to 1.5 gallons per minute, giving 38 million California residents a way to cut water waste from their faucet up to 33%.

Check out this video that explains the "Cap the Tap" idea:

The award includes an internship in New York; however, all four of the Brandcenter students have already accepted jobs:

Yelena Sophia (AD, 2016), Art Director at Media Arts Lab
Greg Donnelly (ST, 2016), Associate Product Marketing Manager at Google
Mikaila Weaver (XD, 2016), Experience Designer at R/GA
Shannon Smith (AD, 2016), Art Director at Arnold 
Reginald Wright, Creative Technologist at San Diego City College

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