A University of Wisconsin-Stout student has received a prestigious honor for her creativity in advertising design.
Kelsey Willaby earned a student division silver award for art direction at the American Advertising Awards. The National Student Advertising Competition was held recently as part of the American Advertising Federation annual conference in Hollywood, Fla.
Willaby, of Hudson, graduated in May with a degree in graphic design and interactive media and is interning this summer at the ICF Next advertising agency in Minneapolis.
Competitors at the national event progressed through regional and district qualifying. Willaby’s work also received silver awards at those levels to advance. The national awards, known as the Addys, draw more than 35,000 professional and student entries each year at the regional level.
Willaby’s project was a proposed advertising campaign for Hopper, a Montreal, Quebec, company that has an app to help travelers book flights and hotels. Her goal was to help elevate and personalize the digital brand through traditional and nontraditional advertising methods.
Her ideas included incorporating virtual reality into the app, creating pop-up shops to help people become more familiar with Hopper and using social media platforms, such as Snapchat.
“I was really amazed initially when I received an email that I had won at the national level. I had no idea it would even get to the district level,” Willaby said.
She thanked Professor Nagesh Shinde for making her aware of the competition and encouraging her to enter, which she did on the last day possible. “I asked roommates if I should do it, whether it would even be worth it,” she said.
Shinde taught the Senior Design Selective course, in which students created their semester-long projects.
“I wouldn’t have gotten that far without the help from Nagesh and from classmates’ critiques. I’m really thankful for his confidence and helping us to put our work up for awards and push us with our designs. It took a long time with concepts, and he was really helpful. I’m really appreciative of that,” Willaby said.
After the regional win, Hopper congratulated Willaby and sent her some T-shirts.
Shinde said the class is one of the toughest within the communication design curriculum, challenging students in the areas of persuasion; color psychology and composition; creative writing and typography; brand communication and business strategies to motivate consumer behavior.
“Kelsey has elevated the bar for the whole school, as she has put UW-Stout on the national map with her extraordinary work,” Shinde said, noting the AAF national board wants UW-Stout to start an AAF student chapter, which Shinde plans to do.
“It was a joy to work with Kelsey. Learning is an activity that appears to be second nature for her. At first, she was reticent in the class, but as the course progressed I noticed that she was an intrinsically driven person and her works illustrate her extraordinary passion for excelling,” Shinde said.
“We are very proud of her accomplishments and wish her all the best,” he added.
The Addy award likely was a factor in Willaby landing the competitive internship this summer at ICF Next in Minneapolis, part of a global agency. “I was amazed to get the internship. There were hundreds of applicants and only three hired on the creative side. I had no idea this one project would help my career so much,” she said.
Willaby received a grant from UW-Stout’s Office of Research and Sponsored Programs to help pay for her travel expenses to Florida.
While at UW-Stout, she also had internships at Flagship Banks in Eden Prairie, Minn., the Ackerberg Group in Minneapolis and the UW-Stout Counseling Center.
“I loved the graphic design program. Stout did an excellent job teaching us about the different areas of design,” she said.
Graphic design is one of six undergraduate programs and a Master of Fine Arts in UW-Stout's School of Art and Design.
Kelsey Willaby celebrates with Professor Nagesh Shinde after receiving a silver Addy award in the student division of the American Advertising Awards in Hollywood, Fla.
Willaby’s contest entry was a proposed advertising campaign for the travel app Hopper. The campaign included a variety of platforms, including an interactive digital board, social media posts and a billboard.