Police vehicle accidents and the impact such crashes have had on communities across New York State are the focus of a new data journalism project involving Newhouse School students working in partnership with reporters from the USA Today Network and Central Current….
These 4 Newhouse Students Won Prestigious Clio Awards Before Graduating
Every student wants to change the world for the better and create disruptive solutions to real-world problems, and advertising truly has the power to create that change. Four students in the Newhouse School of Public Communications did just that—and they won Clios for it.
The Clio Awards are some of the most prestigious awards in the advertising industry, and many professional creatives work their entire careers to win one. This year, Newhouse creative advertising students Jasmine Chin ’23 and Matt Powers ’23 won this most coveted award, while Victoria Lin ’22 and Sam Luo ’21 won in 2022.
The Clio Awards, established in 1959, took place this year on April 25 in New York City. Out of all the submissions worldwide, the judges chose only four campaigns to award in the Student Innovation Category. “Signlingo” was one of them.
Winning a spot on the 2023 Clio Awards Shortlist in the Student Innovation Category for their entry titled “Signlingo” (video), Chin, copywriter, and Powers, art director, developed an extension for Duolingo—a language-learning app that makes language education accessible—in partnership with the World Federation of the Deaf. The creative team used integrated augmented reality to help users learn sign language.
“Signlingo” was created in Chin and Powers’ Portfolio III course taught by advertising professor of practice Mel White. The brief for this campaign was simple—solve a real-world problem using new technology. White chose this brief specifically to reflect the type of problem-solving that occurs in the industry.
“Creating a portfolio program that revolves around the partnership between a copywriter and an art director is important to crafting innovative ideas, as well as treating the program like a real agency,” White says.
And no one understood the need for innovation more than the powerhouse team of Chin and Powers.
After conducting research, Chin and Powers identified a gap that marginalizes deaf children from their parents. They said they found that 90% of deaf children are born to hearing parents who don’t know sign language. The biggest problem, however, is that many parents are busy between jobs and family responsibilities, and find it hard to find time to learn enough sign language to be proficient in it. Chin and Powers solved this problem by using augmented reality technology for parents to learn sign language in real time. Users can point their phone at an object, and their avatar will demonstrate the correct use of sign language to identify it. So, when playing ball with their kid, parents can learn in the moment the correct signage for ball.
“Once we established that our target audience was hearing parents with deaf children, we made sure to creatively find ways to make ‘Signlingo’ practical and intuitive, since it was meant to be a service that could easily be implemented into their everyday lives,” Chin says.
Powers stated that convenience was a necessity when creatively solving the gap between hearing parents and deaf children.
“Most importantly, we wanted to make ‘Signlingo’ accessible for everyone, regardless of how well they can hear,” Powers says.
Winning a Clio Award isn’t just exciting for these students and the Newhouse School. Clinching a Clio Award reassures creative directors and recruiters in the industry that the advertising world’s best and brightest are ready to get to work. Innovative ideas are fostered by incorporating innovative technology, and honing this skill before even entering the industry is appealing to ad agencies.
“The creative bar for the Clio Awards is so incredibly high,” White says. “We’re competing not just against universities but portfolio schools, and we’re one of four winners worldwide in the Student Innovation category.”
Bruce Jacobson ’92, creative director at VMLY&R in New York City, said the Clios are the “Grammys of advertising.” He also noted that already having such an award to your name is enticing to agencies when hiring, as it indicates that the student is capable of winning more awards in the future. “The best predictor of future awards is past ones,” he says.
Winning was a surreal moment for Chin and Powers.
“Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined my work at Newhouse being represented on an international scale, and the fact that it is such a powerful campaign that Jasmine and I are so proud of, makes it all the more sweet,” Powers says.
This isn’t the first year Newhouse students have been recognized by the Clio Awards. In 2022, Lin and Luo secured themselves Clios. Their two campaigns were among six in the world chosen for the Student Print category.
Lin won a bronze Clio for her print campaign for Waterpik, “Flushed Away,” created in White’s Portfolio I course. And she has the award statue to prove it.
Her insight stemmed from personal experience with flossing. Lin found that it’s often difficult to get everything out from between her teeth with just regular flossing, but Waterpik uses a stream of water to remove all food from even the toughest-to-reach crevices. That’s why she actually uses the product herself.
“I will always remember when I first used the Waterpik,” Lin says. “Experiencing the product and understanding the needs of the target audience helped me find an insight more easily.”
Instead of just showing images of food, she showed the entire animal itself coming out of the teeth to convey the power of the Waterpik.
White praised Lin’s ability to push past the most generic ideas.
“She didn’t stop at the obvious answers,” White says. “She kept thinking of ideas, but she wouldn’t stop until she got to a place that was unexpected. She really spent time to create a fresh idea.”
Luo, another 2022 Clio Award winner, used a strong visual solution to call attention to a timely, real-world issue: climate change. Luo’s public service print campaign for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), “2050”, was honored on the Clio’s 2022 Shortlist. He created this winning campaign in White’s Portfolio III course.
Luo wanted his public service campaign to be a shocking wakeup call.
“I wanted to create something to highlight how direct and immediate man-made pollution is to the animals,” he says. “The goal is to trigger an emotional response from people to help WWF in their efforts to raise awareness.”
Reflecting on his creative process, Luo said that the hardest part of this campaign was figuring out how to illustrate pollution in a creative way. His solution was to show a cause-and-effect relationship.
“I decided to focus on simple visual symbols to show both the cause as well as the effect to make the idea of ‘direct impact’ clear,” Luo says.
“This campaign is incredibly moving. There have been a lot of campaigns about this issue over the years, but this one has striking, compelling visuals that make you stop and think,” White says. “Showing two different perspectives in the ads makes you look twice to figure them out. Sam has a way of creating strong visual solutions that people have not seen before that draws you in.”
The Newhouse creative advertising curriculum teaches students to create, craft and execute innovative solutions and these Clio Award-winning students are the perfect example of student innovation at its finest.
Story by Newhouse alumna Emily Bright ’22 and Emily Shiroff, a graduate student in broadcast and digital journalism