VCU Brandcenter grads score nine spots in 2016 Super Bowl

by | Feb 4, 2016 | POLITICS

Millions of people will tune in this Sunday to watch the Carolina Panthers take on the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California.

Millions of people will tune in this Sunday to watch the Carolina Panthers take on the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California.

While watching your favorite team strive for the win, eating pizza, wings and drinking beer are a huge part of the big game, the commercials are what many people look forward to seeing each year.

The Super Bowl is known for its crazy, heartwarming, creative and sometimes downright weird advertisements that play throughout the game.

But it’s not often we have many creatives from our hometown that contribute to commercials that cost in the millions for a spot under a minute.

This year, VCU Brandcenter alums contributed to nine ads, including three regional,that will air during this weekend’s Super Bowl.

Fourteen former Brandcenter students were part of the creative teams at ad agencies from all over the country that put together commercials for outdoor clothing company Marmot, Pokemon, Audi, Jack In the Box (regional), Pantene (regional), PayPal, Priceline, TurboTax, and Bai (regional).

The commercial for Marmot was designed by ad agency Goodby Silverstein & Partners in San Francisco. Los Angeles-based agency Omelet produced the Pokemon ad and Audi’s commercial was created by Venables Bell & Partners in San Francisco.

Jack in the Box was created by California-based David and Goliath, PayPal was done by Crispin Porter + Bogusky in Miami, BBDO in New York created the Priceline commercial and the Grey agency in New York created the ad for Pantene.

Kirstie Maryott ( 2013), Marisa Perazzelli ( 2015), Morgan Welch Aceino (2011), Blakely Jones (2014), Dylan Phillips (2015) Johnny Roelofs (2013), Steve Yee (2000), Mike WIlson (2011), Tom Naughton (2006) and Lindsey Randolph (2004), Richard Langhorne (2011), Zack Madrigal (2013), Matt Skibiak (2013) and Nick Kaplan (2008) are all former Brandcenter contributed to the above Superbowl ads. Check out the end of the article to see which commercial they worked on.

“Some are involved on the strategy some are involved some are involved as a brand manager, a copy writer, art director, each one has some Brandcenter hand print on it,” said Helayne Spivak, Director of the Brandcenter. “That’s the way we’re trained here, we work as teams and that’s why so many of our students are hired and promoted so quickly because they work very well, very professionally, very quickly.”

The Audi commercial promoting their new R8 car features a retired astronaut who isn’t up for much of anything until his son hands him the keys to the car. It’s set to David Bowie’s “Starman” song.

“It’s touching and a little bit exciting,” Spivak said.

Pokemon is celebrating its 20th anniversary and PayPal and Marmot will run ads for the first time this year.

“They’ve had some really interesting teasers running,” she said.

Bai, an antioxidant-infused drink a regional spot, isn’t releasing theirs until game day, but it was done by Barton F Graf. TurboTax, however, was done by Wieden + Kennedy Portland and the tax company has released a teaser.

And this isn’t the first time the work of students coming out of the VCU Brandcenter has shown up during the big game. In 2014, an ad for Heinz Ketchup, and the “Slow Clap” from used car retailer Carmax were both created with the help of some alums.

Spivak said many of the students that come out of the VCU Brandcenter within a year or two after graduation snag their first Super Bowl spot.

“Usually they’re in the most watched category the next day,” she said. “Just simple, wonderful great ideas.”

In 2013, Brandcenter grads were involved in creating ads for Tide, Kia and Audi. Spivak said between 2013 and 2015 Brandcenter alums helped to produce 29 commercials that were featured in the Super Bowl.

Spivak also mentioned some alums were also behind the famous Volkswagen “Little Darth Vader” commercial.

“We also did GoDaddy last year, it was very controversial spot,” she said. “It was one called “Puppy Mill”…they pulled it quickly.”

Spivak explained how they their school works extensively with each student to develop and cultivate their talents to prepare them for the real world of advertising.

“The way we train people, our curriculum and our faculty, creative ideas aren’t just the domain of the writers or the art directors, it comes from the strategists, it comes the brand managers so what we train is basically creative problem solving,” she said. “It’s how you make connections, how well you think to turn it into something that’s a little bit different.”

And while commercials that run during the Super Bowl strive to get more creative to leave a lasting impression on viewers each year, that comes at a hefty price for companies.

According to Bleacher Report, CBS is charging as much as $5 million for a 30-second advertise.

Check out the rundown of the VCU Brandcenter alums involved in this year’s commercials below:

Goodby Silverstein & Partners
Alums = Kirstie Maryott (Strategist, 2013) and Marisa Perazzelli (Strategist, 2015)

Agency: Omelet LA
Alums = Morgan Welch Aceino (Creative Brand Management, 2011), Blakely Jones (Copy Writing, 2014)

Agency: VB+P
Alums = Dylan Phillips (Strategist, 2015) and Johnny Roelofs (Strategist, 2013)

Jack in the Box (regional)
Agency: DavidandGoliath
Alum = Steve Yee (Art Direction, 2000)

Agency: CP+B
Alum = Mike Wilson (Art Direction, 2011)

Agency: BBDO
Alum = Tom Naughton (Strategist, 2006)

Pantene (regional)
Agency: Grey
Alum: Lindsey Randolph (Strategist, 2004)

Agency: Barton F Graf
Alum: Richard Langhorne (Copywriting, 2011), Zack Madrigal (Art Direction, 2013) and Nick Kaplan (Copywriting, 2008)

Agency: Wieden + Kennedy Portland
Alum: Matt Skibiak (Copywriting, 2013)

Amy David

Amy David

Amy David was the Web Editor for from May 2015 until September 2018. She covered craft beer, food, music, art and more. She's been a journalist since 2010 and attended Radford University. She enjoys dogs, beer, tacos, and Bob's Burgers references.

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