Yashashree Samant Does Bigger, Better With T-Mobile
By Alixandra Rutnik on Dec 04, 2020
"With graduation around the corner, I’ll have one more post-it to add on my wall of things to do– find a job."
The covid-19 pandemic forced everybody to rethink their life and especially their business strategies– it's been a long haul, but things are looking up for 2021. We went from an already highly digital society to a pretty-much digital-only existence this past year. The pandemic for worse or for better has forced tech in society to evolve at a more rapid rate. Just like everyone else, The One Club for Creativity has had to move everything– including all our fun in-person One Club events– online for the foreseeable future.
Over the summer we launched our first Mentor & Creative summer program over Zoom– a pandemic friendly spin-off of our big Intern & Creative networking event. It was a 6-week “computers-on” experience that connected a handful of our One Club student members and Young Ones’ winners with our corporate members. Students were assigned a client brief, a One Club open business brief, or a bespoke mentorship lesson by high-level creatives (like Nancy Vonk). The students met with their industry professional mentors once a week for two to three hours for six weeks. At the end of the program, and after hours of hard creative work and thinking, students now have a polished campaign-based project to showcase in their portfolios or new-found knowledge to take with them in life.
The Mentor & Creative summer program went so well that we hosted it again over the fall– the fall session wrapped up a few weeks ago, and there will be another session this winter available to Young Ones’ winners and One Club members only. The deadline to register for the winter session is January 22, 2021.
Yashashree Samant is one of the students who participated in Mentor & Creative this past summer. Yashashree and her team were assigned a client brief to work on over the six weeks. We had the opportunity to discuss with her how their project developed over time and what her overall experience was like interacting with industry professionals and teammates over Zoom.
Name: Yasashree Samant
Agency: Publicis Seattle
Mentors: Eric Wegerbauer and Pete Kearney
Team Members: Anika Marie Grube, Nathan Blakely, Sam Luo, Samantha Beauchamp
Brief: T-Mobile merged with Sprint making it an even bigger network provider in America. We had to demonstrate how bigger means better and brand a new T-Mobile in that light.
Why did you decide to apply to the TOC Summer 2020 Mentor & Creative program?
In January 2020, I came to New York to study and work in the advertising and communication industry, but ever since March we have been confined to our homes with online classes and assignments. Even an internship that I had secured for Spring got canceled due to COVID-19. So when the opportunity from The One Club presented itself, I was more than happy to lap it up and gain some insightful experience working with some of the most coveted creatives in the industry.
How was your experience different from what you imagined?
I had imagined it to be just a weekly check-in and perhaps much like school where the mentors would give us a brief, we would work on it during the week and get feedback at the end. However, Publicis Seattle was extremely hands-on with their interns or mentees. We got to work on a real brief, had check-ins with our mentors or others in the creative team throughout the week, and in the end, we also got to meet the clients to present our ideas to T-Mobile. Even with the distance, it felt like we were real employees of the company working on real projects.
"Even with the distance, it felt like we were real employees of the company working on real projects."
What was your favorite part and about Mentor & Creative?
It’s tough to zero down to one favorite part of the whole experience. If I have to choose, it will be the last meeting with our mentors just before we presented to our T-Mobile clients. At that point we had been working on the brief for six weeks– our three concepts had grown exponentially and we could see that in the eyes of our mentors. It felt really special to see our mentors proud.
My key takeaway is the importance of craft in advertising. Knowing that the idea is good is work half-way done, but honing in on the craft, writing manifestos over and over again, or designing something again until you crack the perfect layout is key in any piece of work. It was great seeing work being developed in real-time.
"Knowing that the idea is good is work half-way done, but honing in on the craft, writing manifestos over and over again, or designing something again until you crack the perfect layout is key in any piece of work."
This whole program took place over Zoom, how do you feel that worked out?
Zoom or rather work from any online platform has now become the new norm. The obvious disadvantage was of course the lack of human connection– not being able to sit in a room together and listen to people talk. It also felt slightly weird at first not being able to sit with my teammates and brainstorm over a cup of coffee, but as we progressed it got easier. I think the key benefit was that despite the fact that we lived in different places and time zones we could collaborate seamlessly.
" I think the key benefit was that despite the fact that we lived in different places and time zones we could collaborate seamlessly."
Can you give me some details on how things worked week to week?
The first week we received the brief from our mentors and were supposed to come up with broad concepts and ideas for the brief. From the second week onwards we started working on the three ideas that they picked from the first round. It began with manifestos, ad-like objects, lines, tv-scripts, etc. We reviewed each one in the weeks to follow and worked on the feedback given to us by Pete and Eric. Between weeks we would often email the associate creative director’s from Publicis– Nancy Strange and Jason Fong with our questions and progress of our creative work and imbibe their feedback before any review.
How did the dynamics work between you and the other students and you and your mentors?
The dynamic between me and my teammates was easy, unpretentious, and fun. We never shied away from sharing ideas and taking everybody’s opinions on creative work. Our mentors were extremely friendly and approachable so it was really fun working under them..
From start to finish, how does the final version of your project for T-Mobile differ?
We presented five ideas on our second call with our mentors, three of those ideas were then pursued in the coming weeks. The first one explored the many possibilities a bigger T-Mobile brings; the second idea was about how T-Mobile wants to propel change in 2020 for good; and lastly, the third idea personified T-Mobile’s brand color– Magenta– to all that they stand for.
In the first week, these ideas were mere concepts and a write-up. Over the course of time, each of them had nuance, solid manifestos tied with a distinct visual language for each idea, and executions on multiple platforms.
What did it feel like to present to your clients at T-Mobile?
It was our first ever client presentation and it was surreal. All of us were a bit nervous and jittery to begin with, but we had two mock presentations beforehand where we decided the order and gave each other feedback on the presentation. We even had the final call with our mentors who were very impressed and gave us more pointers on things we should avoid and areas we should concentrate on. When the moment arrived though, all the nerves kind of faded away. We had done the work, now it was time to present it to the best of our capabilities to the client and that is exactly what we did. From my understanding and all the feedback we got afterward, it went exceptionally well! It was truly a remarkable experience, one that I will always cherish.
What was student life like at school over the fall semester?
I took online lectures at Miami Ad School and also did Agency Lab where we gain practical experience in an agency. I've been working at TBWA/Chiat/Day New York. So far everything has been remote work, but I’m really excited and hopeful that the offices actually open up in 2021, even if it’s just for a little while so I get to strut down Madison Avenue and romanticize our profession. (It’s an extremely cheesy and naive view, nevertheless, one I hope happens.)
With remote learning this semester, how are you staying focused?
I am in my final quarter, which means I will be graduating in December 2020! In the fall we had remote classes and practical experience at an agency.
Since the pandemic began my strategy to remain sane and focused has been pretty much the same– to keep myself busy and find new opportunities to learn. On weekends I try to read books, articles, magazines, watch movies or shows on Netflix, and perhaps even stroll around a bit since the re-opening. I use all the energy and insights that I’ve gathered during the week to work on projects and write better copy. With graduation around the corner, I’ll have one more post-it to add on my wall of things to do– find a job. (*fingers crossed*)
If you could describe Mentor & Creative in one sentence...?
A meaningful course to hone skills, network with people, and develop good work.
What is some advice you would like to give to the next students who will be participating in the spring 2020 Mentor & Creative program?
Be open to learning, take advantage of the opportunity, and pour all your energy into creating good work.
Are you a One Club Member who is interested in being involved in valuable programs like this one? Sign up to stay in the know!