Videos: University team wins Ford competition


The video “Big Trees” by GVSU students for the Ford “Go Further” video competition features David Milarch and his work as the co-founder of Archangel Ancient Tree Archive. Photo via

Students from three local colleges recently competed in a social media video contest for a chance to work with Ford and a Dearborn ad agency.

“Go Further” challenge

A group of students from Grand Valley State University was named the winner today of the pilot collegiate competition to create a short video about a person or organization that personifies the automaker’s brand as part of Ford’s “Go Further” campaign.

The individual portrayed in the video had to own a Ford vehicle.

The win was based on how well the video performed on social media channels.

The collegiate video competition was based on a partnership between Ford and the Center for Emerging Enterprises in Grand Rapids, a nonprofit developing hands-on educational opportunities for students, and involved the ad agency Team Detroit.

Ford and the Center for Emerging Enterprises challenged three teams of students from Calvin College, Compass College of Cinematic Arts and GVSU to make the videos in three weeks.

Each of the three teams of students was selected from different disciplines and worked under the supervision of a mentor to produce a short documentary-style video and implement a social media campaign to mirror a real-life business scenario.

As the winning team, GVSU students will have a chance to work with Ford marketing leaders, Team Detroit and receive a cash reward.

“I am very excited to be a part of this competition,” said Olga Sarayeva, a member of GVSU’s team. “I am looking forward to working closely with Team Detroit, because it is a real-world experience that we will be able to go to their agency and work on the video. One of our students is going to California to shoot redwoods to add to our video.”

The Center for Emerging Enterprises, Ford and Team Detroit hosted a news conference today in Grand Rapids to discuss the project, view all three team videos and consider the cash prizes for how well the videos performed.

The GVSU team

Chad Rodgers, another member of GVSU’s team, said Ford proposed the idea for the campaign to involve students and see who could create the most inspiring story. Rodgers was then contacted by his team's advisor, Frank Blossom, to develop the video. Blossom is an affiliate professor at GVSU in advertising and public relations.

“I wanted to participate, because . . . what an opportunity for a student to make a video for Ford and Team Detroit,” Rodgers said. “It was a really big step for all of us. I mean this happens all the time in the advertising industry, that a client wants something done in three weeks, and you have to make it happen.”

The GVSU team is comprised of five other members: Atikh Bana, Joseph Buckenmeyer, Ian Kast, Lindsey VandenBoom and Richard Iseppi.

The team also received support from faculty and local professionals while developing the video and executing the social media campaign.

“The way that my team has performed has been absolutely outstanding,” Rodgers said. “Everyone has done their part to cross the Ts and dot their Is. It’s just been a great group experience.”

Winning video

GVSU focused on telling David Milarch’s story and his work as the co-founder of Archangel Ancient Tree Archive.

The nonprofit creates living libraries of the world’s largest and most iconic trees through a cloning process using traditional and advanced horticultural propagation.

The initiative is meant to replace and re-forest the planet to provide a healthier ecosystem, according to its website.

Sarayeva said the team initially had a number of story ideas before deciding to focus on Milarch’s work.

“When we heard about David, it stood out to us,” Sarayeva said. “He is doing something on a global scale. Like he said, ‘We are doing something for the future and something for our grandchildren.’ I think that got our attention. We wanted to do something that has a bigger scale. We wanted to take an extra step and have a bigger reach for the campaign.”

Calvin and Compass videos

Students from Calvin created a documentary on Hannah Kewkel, a student who attended the college, and her relationship with her younger sister.

The team from Compass College of Cinematic Arts in Grand Rapids produced a video about Jenn Amo, an ambassador with Women at Risk International, who's fighting to stop human trafficking.

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