Creating a Super Bowl ad early in your career is a rare feat. Some creatives go their entire career without getting the chance, but seven young Newhouse alumni from the advertising department’s creative track have been part of the teams behind eight Super Bowl campaigns over the last three years.
Chase Condrone G’18, Zach Schweikert ’17, Jill Archibold ’17, Tan Erginay ’16, Simon Dolsten ’14, Jessica Rello ’11 and Lauren Varvara ’10 all contributed to campaigns that appeared on advertising’s biggest stage. During their time at Newhouse, they studied with either professor Kevin O’Neill, professor Mel White or both.
“It’s a dream assignment for a creative: big brands, big budgets, big ideas,” O’Neill says. “A young creative getting that opportunity can be a career changer.”
M&M’s “Come Together” campaign was named one of the 10 best Super Bowl ads this year by Adweek. Jessica Rello, creative director at BBDO NY, celebrated the ad—her first Super Bowl campaign—with a fellow first-timer, Dan Levy. The “Schitt’s Creek” star was featured in the campaign, where people used the candy as a form of apology.
“M&M’s has always been about bringing people together, whether it’s through sharing a laugh at our commercials or a handful of colorful chocolates from the candy bowl—pre-COVID, of course,” Rello says. “2020 was tough on everyone, and coming out of a year with such division, we just wanted to remind people how easy it is to reach out and extend an olive branch, especially when it’s made of chocolate.”
She was also the copywriter for the campaign and says filming was unlike anything she has done before.
“We were lucky enough to have an awesome team of really hard-working people that made each stage as seamless as possible,” Rello says. “Given the pandemic, we faced a lot of challenges we’ve never experienced with a normal production, but having this all-star team made it all possible.”
Along with this Super Bowl campaign, Rello has won a Bronze One Show Pencil and six Shortlists, a Bronze Cannes Lion and Shortlist, three Silver NY Addys, a Bronze Epica Award, two Bronze Kinsale Sharks, a Silver FAB Award and a Webby Award.
Lauren Varvara, creative director at Saatchi & Saatchi New York, worked on her second Super Bowl ad this year, Tide’s “Jason Alexander Hoodie.” Ad Age gave the whacky commercial five stars and Adweek’sTwitter review called it “another home run” for the brand. It aimed to sell Tide Hygienic Clean pods and came together thanks to some collaborative brainstorming.
“Our chief creative officer, Daniel Lobatón, said something like, ‘Hey what if we did a spot about a sweatshirt that came to life?’” Varvara says. “Then another creative found some references of the big-face hoodies, and then I started writing terrible things that could happen to a hoodie and the rest was history.”
Varvara helped pitch ideas, write the script and run all of the social media and digital extensions for the campaign.
“Due to COVID precautions we were masked all day and sat in a 20-person van even though there were only five of us,” Varvara says. “We would have sat outside but, of course, it was a snowstorm. Then, our director and Gabe flew to Los Angeles where they shot outside with Jason Alexander and we remoted in from our computers.”
Her first Super Bowl campaign was last year’s “Laundry Later” for Tide with Charlie Day. During her career, Varvara has won a One Show award, Gold and Silver Cannes Lions, three Sports CLIOS and a D&AD Wood Pencil.
Simon Dolsten, a senior copywriter at FCB New York, also worked on his first Super Bowl campaign in 2021: Michelob Ultra’s “All-Star Cast” commercial for the brand’s organic seltzer. Featuring Don Cheadle as the only true star, the ad has fun with an array of celebrity look-alikes, including Cheadle’s real brother Colin pretending to be the Oscar-nominated actor.
“The product had a great attribute: it was real and organic in a world that’s often fake,” Dolsten says. “That was the tension, real versus fake. So our idea was to create the most star-studded Super Bowl commercial revealing in the end that everyone was fake, except our product and the lead actor holding it.”
Dolsten was part of the core creative team for the campaign and started work on the project last summer. Along with the Super Bowl spot, they created Twitter videos, a brand platform for the product and the “As Real As It Tastes” campaign. Adweek’sTwitter review of the ad highlighted its “brilliant premise” and celebrity twists.
2021 marks Tan Erginay’s third consecutive Super Bowl campaign for the Pringles brand after nearly five years in the industry. Erginay, a senior copywriter at Grey New York, wrote his first Super Bowl ad in 2019, the brand’s “Sad Device” campaign, which featured a depressed AI that just wanted to stack Pringles. He followed that up with last year’s collaboration with “Rick and Morty,”which also included a limited edition Pickle Rick flavor.
This year’s ad “Space Return” focused on two astronauts after they returned to Earth and had trouble getting the attention of mission control and a fishing boat. Both crews were too busy stacking Pringles to spot the duo, leaving them out at sea without their own chips to stack.
“We always try to be a little darker, a little less broad with our comedy,” Erginay says. “So, we tried to think of interesting consequences to a snack that had hundreds of thousands of variations. It was a process of thinking of different fun consequences to being distracted by a dumb crisp.”
During his career, Erginay has won a One Show Silver and Merit, two Cannes Lions Shortlists and a Webby Award.
He credits O’Neill for helping him become a strong writer and says having the ability to write jokes has helped throughout his career. Erginay says his time in the creative advertising track helped prepare him for his professional career following graduation.
“A lot of what we learn at Newhouse is super practical so you understand what’s happening around you when you first start working at an agency,” Erginay says.
Zach Schweikert, a copywriter, and Jill Archibold, an art director, currently work as a creative team at VaynerMedia. Last year, they were part of the team behind Planters’ infamous “Baby Nut” campaign. The two worked on the official statement after Mr. Peanut’s sacrificial death, as well as in memoriam posts, videos and interactions with other brands on social media before and during the game.
This year instead of using $5 million for a Super Bowl spot, Planters donated the money to people who helped others during the pandemic. Schweikert and Archibold created social media work for the campaign. Using the hashtag #ANutAbove, the brand shared different “acts of substance” via Twitter and Facebook posts.
“We mostly worked on the animated launch video for the campaign, which laid out what Planters was going to do on social media during the game,” Schweikert says.
Schweikert and Archibold have been a team since first working together their senior year at Newhouse, when White paired them together in her Portfolio III course.
“Mel White our portfolio professor, was in the industry very recently,” Archibold says. “She was super helpful and had a lot of knowledge about how to get into the industry and what it’s currently like.”
The two have high praises for both her and O’Neill as well as the creative advertising track at Newhouse.
“Something that prepared us was how collaborative the ad program is,” Schweikert says. “We’ve been working as a creative team since Portfolio III and we’re still working together now. The Capstone/American Advertising Federation (AAF) courses were also a good taste of what it’s like to work on a comprehensive campaign with people across the advertising disciplines.”
Those disciplines include creative, strategy, account and media.
Between the two, Schweikert and Archibold have won two Cannes Lions Golds and a Silver, two CLIO Sports Silvers and a Bronze, a One Show Gold and three Merits, were named one of Twitter’s Best of 2018 and were finalists for a Webby Award.
Last year, Chase Condrone celebrated his first Super Bowl ad as part of the McKinney team behind Little Caesars’ “Best Thing Since Sliced Bread” campaign, which featured Rainn Wilson. Condrone contributed ideas for some of the commercial’s chaos while creating social components to coordinate with the commercial.
“There were a ton of pieces to the campaign,” Condrone says. “And I touched it from start to finish.”
He says the portfolio courses at Newhouse prepared him for the industry, especially the Super Bowl.
“We had a rare situation where you have a fun brand in a big space where they’re willing to do some crazy stuff,” Condrone says. “I really felt like I was back in portfolio class. I felt really prepared by that class more than anything else.”
White says the success of these recent graduates reflects the good foundation students receive at Newhouse.
“We are incredibly proud of all of these alumni and their compelling Super Bowl campaigns,” White says. “To see them reach this level of success in the industry so early is simply outstanding.”
Samantha Savery is a graduate student in the arts journalism and communications program at the Newhouse School.