SPONSORED BY
Marketing

Yes, advertising students are working on Web3

ONE School founder Oriel Davis-Lyons said it’s seen an influx of applications featuring pitches about NFTs and the metaverse.
article cover

Illustration: Francis Scialabba, Photos: Hannah Cruise, Claire Hentzen, Ryan Shih, Alaysha Mikell, Ira Birch, Dominik Hofacker

· 3 min read

Even if the market isn’t taking Web3 too seriously (gulp), advertising students are.

Apparently, it felt like “every other” application to the ONE School, an online portfolio school for Black creatives, included a pitch about NFTs or the metaverse over the past two semesters, Oriel Davis-Lyons, the school’s founder, told Marketing Brew. The school typically gets more than 100 applications each semester.

“I think it shows that the next generation of creatives are already comfortable with incorporating this emerging tech into creative solutions. To them, it’s another channel to play in,” he said.

Web3 concepts are the current idea du jour—it feels like every brand is either unveiling NFTs or looking for property in the metaverse. In the past year, McDonald’s has turned the McRib into an NFT, Chipotle built a restaurant in Roblox, and Miller Lite debuted a bar in Decentraland.

The next generation of advertisers (and their professors) know they need to pay attention.

Jesse Alkire, founder and creative director of the Denver Ad School, mentioned that a few students are “waist deep” in Bored Ape NFTs. He thinks Web3 is an “awesome space for brands and agencies to play” in, though he joked that nobody really knows “what the hell” an NFT is.

Like any other campaign, creatives aren’t asked to actually code in the metaverse, just create concepts for it. “We kind of encourage them to learn the language, right? Learn as much of the language as you need to get by,” said Davis-Lyons.

“As long as businesses are using it, our students need to use it, too,” Andrew LeVasseur, professor of experience design at VCU Brandcenter, a master’s program for advertising, told us. LeVasseur said Web3 lingo has “totally” sunk into the curriculum, including a class he teaches called “User Participation Platforms.”

  • In that class, students might be asked how a brand could show up in “decentralized and tokenized economies,” requiring them to pitch concepts centered around crypto, VR, and blockchain.
  • A prompt asking students to envision what the Olympics might look like over the next decade resulted in one team pitching “a personalized home-viewing experience using modular (tokenized) design systems and Augmented Reality,” LeVasseur explained.
imagining a future Olympics experience in AR

Ryan Shih

LeVasseur told us other students have created work incorporating Web3-ish concepts, like a “shopping experience” for Finnish brand Marimekko that takes place in a metaverse, a “mixed-reality app prototype for learning mechanical skills,” MacOS in AR, and a Netflix metaverse. Students who have recently graduated from VCU Brandcenter have since gone on to work at Microsoft and Meta.

from our sponsor

Put your ads in their ears. Here’s a stat for your next strategy meeting: Over 70% of US adults tune in to digital audio content every month. Ready to reach ’em? The Guide to Programmatic Audio Advertising ebook from StackAdapt has the case studies and best practices you need to up your multichannel game. Get it here.

Hannah Cruise and Claire Hentzen, recent Denver Ad School grads who now work at agencies VMLY&R and BSSP respectively, made sure to include a Web3 pitch in their portfolios when applying to jobs after graduation. The pitch imagined a crypto campaign for Venmo.

imagining a "Try Crypto on Venmo" campaign

Hannah Cruise and Claire Hentzen

“It was discussed, like, ‘Oh, if we have a brand that incorporates crypto, or NFTs or anything,’—I think that made our book automatically more competitive,” said Hentzen.

Still, Web3 is just a vessel for a pitch, not the pitch itself, said Davis-Lyons.

“You can see that it’s the thing right now, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good thing…an NFT is not an idea, in and of itself,” he said.

Jeff Epstein, executive director of the Chicago Portfolio School, agreed.

“No one’s getting a job because they know the latest technology. They’re gonna get a job because they have really smart concepts, really smart strategies,” he said.

from our sponsor

Put your ads in their ears. Here’s a stat for your next strategy meeting: Over 70% of US adults tune in to digital audio content every month. Ready to reach ’em? The Guide to Programmatic Audio Advertising ebook from StackAdapt has the case studies and best practices you need to up your multichannel game. Get it here.

Get marketing news you'll actually want to read

The email newsletter guaranteed to bring you the latest stories shaping the marketing and advertising world, like only the Brew can.