University of Wisconsin Stout: Advertising campaigns by UW-Stout graphic design and interactive media students earn six regional awards

Menomonie, Wis. — Five graphic design students from University of Wisconsin-Stout who took their ideas to the next level were recognized recently with awards from the Advertising Federation of Minnesota.

One of the students brought home gold and has earned an additional award for her advertising campaign.

The graphic design and interactive media majors from Professor Nagesh Shinde’s Advertising Design course developed campaigns for consumer products and entered them in the annual competition’s student division. They returned from the awards show at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis with a handful of honors:

“Their creativity and innovative thinking were fully displayed at this event, and their success is a testament to their skills as designers,” Shinde said. “Their ability to connect with clients and create stunning visually and compelling campaigns reflects the quality of education and training they have received at UW-Stout.”

UW-Stout’s School of Art and Design, with six Bachelor of Fine Arts and two Bachelor of Science programs, is the largest in the Upper Midwest with more than 1,200 students.

In addition to her gold award, Roberts’ campaign was judged Best in Show among student entries in all categories. Her work advanced to the District 8 American Advertising Awards in Chicago and earned a silver award, and it is entered in the national student competition in June.

“Winning these awards means a lot to me,” Roberts said. “I’ve always been one to push myself above and beyond what’s expected of me. I have really high expectations of myself. So to me, these awards are a sign that all of the hard work I’ve put in over the last four years has been worth it.”

Roberts created an ad campaign for the compact treadmill WalkingPad. It can be folded and stored out of sight when not in use — perfect for remote workers who want some exercise at a stand-up desk. 

The foldable treadmill hasn’t been heavily promoted. Roberts saw a culturally relevant product in need of more exposure.

“One of the goals of my campaign was to simply increase awareness that this product does exist. The phrase, Workday? Walkday is used throughout the campaign as the key message, which is meant to signal that any workday can be turned into a walkday with WalkingPad,” Roberts said.

For her campaign, Roberts created a 30-second video and concept print, indoor, outdoor, social media and artificial reality ads, along with a minicampaign. Finding suitable imagery for the campaign was “one of the biggest hurdles I faced. There’s not a whole lot of cutting edge design happening in the treadmill advertising industry.”

Roberts also said a challenge was shifting “out of that traditional graphic designer mindset of wanting to focus on visuals, because in advertising it’s all about the ideas. Once I was able to make that shift, the ideas really started flowing and I was able to come up with some pretty unique concepts that I think helped set my project apart from the competition.”

Judges, who are professionals in the industry, said the “work was so well designed and fully formed that we felt it could have run, as is. It showed a level of maturity that is rare”; that “it passed the test of being student work that you could imagine an agency producing”; and that the “entire presentation (is) one that could be given to a client in the professional world.”

Roberts estimates she worked 250 to 300 hours on the semesterlong project. She credits feedback and encouragement from members of the student chapter of the American Institute of Graphic Arts and from Shinde. She has been AIGA chapter president for the past two years.

Shinde congratulated the students on their “well-deserved” awards. He said it’s important for them to push creative boundaries as professionals. “The have shown that they have the potential to make a significant impact in the industry, and we cannot wait to see what the future holds for them.”

A UW-Stout student, Daniel Nesja, won the student Best in Show in 2021.

Along with the student competition, professionals from the region received awards. The event, called the Show, is juried by accomplished creative directors, writers and designers from across the country. UW-Stout is Wisconsin’s Polytechnic University, with a focus on applied learning, collaboration with business and industry, and career outcomes. Learn more via the FOCUS2030 strategic plan.