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International Creativity and Portfolio Building Abroad: Cannes Lions, Branding, Networking, & More!

By Natalie Rohman


Photo taken by Marshall Goldman in front of the DoubleYou agency office in Barcelona, Spain.

You’ve probably skipped an advertisement, sped through a commercial, or even subscribed for premium no-ad services and just never felt like giving ads the proper time of day. Ads are shaped by our culture and, in some cases, the way we attach significance onto puppy-monkey-babys or worldwide dancing trends—it all matters. What we consume matters. All of it makes a major impact on our content hungry brains and what better way to understand it than actually flying eight hours and experiencing it for ourselves?

DePaul’s PRAD program had selected 16 creative minds who were eager to learn up close and hands-on advertising and portfolio building on a globalized scale. The Creativity and Portfolio Building Abroad Program was led by talented DePaul University professors, Marshall Goldman and Juan Mundel.

The Creativity and Portfolio Building Abroad program allows students to attend the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity. This is a five-day annual experience that leaders in the field of creative communications can come together to be recognized and awarded for this past year’s work and top awarded executions. The biggest names in the public relations and advertising industry, as well as, celebrity guests gather to discuss and honor the achievements of advertising and marketing campaigns. In addition, the festival features influential speakers, hands-on brainstorming workshops, and an abundance of networking opportunities.

For me, having a public relations focus, I never really considered advertising to be a career trajectory or path, but after this program I’m wondering—why not do both? With everything I have learned about public relations these past two years of college, I’m missing out on creativity. Writing press releases and media clips, for example, are all very crucial skills to be able to do, but I know I need to constantly be stimulated by inspiration and creativity.

That’s why this program has been a revelation for me. Each week, our professors would give us a brief with a client to create mock, creative campaigns according to what city we were currently in. We also had homework assignments along with the team project due by the end of the week. The next two weeks of the program, we got to visit The Netherlands and Spain where we attended class every day at the universities and worked on our campaigns with our teams.


Professor Leontine van Geffen (left) from Amsterdam University of Applied

Sciences delivered a workshop on effective Instagram

marketing during our visit in the Netherlands.

These campaigns were really the first ones I’ve ever done and am very proud of. I learned a lot about working with a team and delegating tasks, the importance of cultural relevance, utilizing multiple skill sets, understanding the audience’s perception of your product, and time management because most advertisements have hard deadlines.

One of the biggest things I learned about advertising is that storytelling is key. Being able to connect with people through strategic messages and creatively execute an advertisement that attracts audiences and consumers is valued more than just simply showing a product. People want to relate, find a similarity, and be entertained. The simpler, the better.

In a world full of ads yelling at you “not to skip,” there are a lot of good ads out there, too. it can be hard to even have positive views towards them, but by experiencing some of the works of artful ads, I began to see them differently. Not as manipulative or annoying, but as thoughtful and smart pieces of influential work.

Being able to be a part of this study abroad experience has been the height of my college and educational career. I have shared memories and created relationships that I will cherish forever, gotten a taste of culture, and a better understanding of creativity through global perceptions and audiences.

I want to give a huge thank you to our program directors, Marshall Goldman and Juan Mundel for creating the program and leading us around each city by truly guiding us along a journey filled with cultural enrichment, many networking opportunities, hands-on education and creativity, and gifting us with all of their industry wisdom. I would highly recommend that all students take advantage of their study abroad programs at their colleges because not only will it surpass classroom education, but give you personal enrichment and real-world experience that is incomparable to scrolling on your computer or skipping ads, for that matter.


Taken on Twitter Beach, students were able to take advantage of all the networking opportunities alongside Juan Mundel (center) and Julie Ferguson (far left).


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