Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

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AdLab’s adventure in The Big Apple

AdLabs adventure in The Big Apple

As part of the AdLab program, students were given the opportunity to attend the American Advertising Federation’s annual conference in New York City – the advertising capital of the world.

The conference, taking place Nov. 1-5, allowed students to learn from and connect with influential leaders in the industry. Apart from attending workshops and panel discussions, students got to network with professionals from various fields of advertising.

AdLab is a student-run advertising agency within SIU, giving students hands-on experience in the advertising world.


“They meet with clients, and they put together decks which are like a pitch and… They went over, pitched it, they got the work, they’re doing it now. They write a scope. So, we follow exactly what you would do if you were at an agency. It’s on a smaller scale, but the process is the same. So, they get to practice that repeatedly,” said Bridget Lescelius, the faculty advisor of Saluki AdLab.

She accompanied four students – Monserrat Munoz, Ashleigh Spence, Jada Plummer and Emily Sinnett – to the AAF-organized Student Career Conference.

The American Advertising Federation is a professional organization for individuals and companies involved in the creation, production and distribution of advertising. Founded in 1905, the AAF has nearly 100 corporate members and more than 200 professional chapters across the United States.

“We are in a college chapter of the American Advertising Federation,” Lescelius said. “We’ll go to the Student Advertising Career Conference in NYC. And then in the spring, we will be competing at the National Student Advertising Competition, which is a national event that we’ve done well the past few years.”

The conference was a three-day event filled with informative sessions, engaging speakers, and plenty of opportunities to network with like-minded professionals.

On Wednesday, they arrived in the city by plane.

“We landed and checked into our hotel. We went straight to Soho where Anomaly is, that is where Chris Cole, our alum, works as an art director, so we got to listen to their presentation and then tour the agency.” Munoz said.


Chris Cole co-founded Adlab alongside Bridget Lescelius.

“I kind of credit him with bringing the student perspective to the table when we created this,” Lescelius said. “Some of the first accounts he worked on were Dunkin’ Donuts, Johnny Walker, Google. And, I mean, these are just huge names… So, it’s very cool to see our students after, you know, three or four years out of college running these big accounts.”

The next day, they woke up early to speak with Disney Hulu. Hulu was recently bought out by Disney for more than $8 billion.

“And it’s not even the whole thing,” Munoz said. “Plus, they own all these different channels and a whole bunch of stuff. ESPN, National Geographic, Lucasfilm, Marvel.”

Hulu is home to AdLab’s major project, ads created for the Illinois Department of Public Health.

“We got to talk to them, tour their space, and then in the afternoon, we all split up and had our immersion visits, so we had to figure out how we’re getting to the agencies that we all had, and then we got to meet with them as well,” Munoz said.

The immersion visits they each had to go through were Magnolia Bakery, Goodby Silverstein and Partners, Omnicom Group and OMD.

“The one that we were at first was Goodby Silverstein and Partners,” Sinnett said. “They showed us some of their campaigns. They showed us their Flamin’ Hot Cheetos campaign and then they showed us their Doritos campaign and kind of walked us through some of that. We also got a sneak peek of the 2024 Super Bowl ad. So that was kind of cool.”

They were instructed not to disclose the campaigns, but to tease us with an exciting surprise.

“At the end of the day, we had a reception at McCann, which is an ad agency in New York,” Munoz said.

Then on Friday came the conference with several speakers and influential leaders, where they presented their pitch for Magnolia Bakery, working with Nike.

“They gave us three small prompts and we picked two,” Spence said. “So, we did a partnership with Nike, and a milestone of a million followers. And Monse [Munoz] did that. She mocked the Nike logo. They loved that she mocked it within like 10 minutes of the presentation. They put up all the prompts, explained them a little bit, and they said, pick your prompts, get into your group, you have 20 minutes, and we just had these big sheets of paper and we just had to go and get everything as solidified as we could.”

The students also mentioned how a peer from the University of Illinois said how impressive they are with working together, as well as how efficient they are.

“And then, when we presented our idea, the guy from Magnolia told us that they actually had something that they did a photo shoot for, like what, two weeks before that? [concerning the pitch] But that’s a secret. Yeah, so we couldn’t say what it was,” Plummer said.

After that, the group had their alumni dinner which had three Alums – Chris Cole (Anomaly), Ivy Lu (BBDO) and Sam Vastis (Katie Couric).

The students spent the entire weekend exploring the city. They went to see a Broadway show called the Book of Mormon.

During their trip, they made sure to visit one of the most iconic museums in the world – The Metropolitan Museum of Art, colloquially known as The Met.

“[The students] bought me a print,” Lescelius said. “I like Van Gogh, and there was one I really wanted, so they bought it which was very, very nice.  And then…when we were at the Met, it’s right in Central Park, and that’s where the New York Marathon was.”

The trip was very impactful to many of the students and gave them many opportunities for the future to come.

“Networking is everything in this industry, so getting this opportunity already. It puts us leaps and bounds above other students and even just AdLab itself,” Munoz said. “To add to that, the University of Illinois, they have like 500 people a part of their AAF chapter, and we have a max of 15. So, everyone was very impressed with how small we are, but also how much work we do compared to them. So, that is a big accomplishment for us.”


said the trip changed her entire view on life.

“I come from a small town and my neighbors are cows. So, this is very eye-opening for me just to be around many people like that and to hear from everybody and experience different cultures, like going to Chinatown, and trying new foods,” she said.

The trip was a great opportunity for learning and career growth. The students learned about the importance of communication, collaboration, adaptability and cultural sensitivity. They also gained insights into the cultural diversity of the region and how it is important to build strong relationships with clients and colleagues from different backgrounds.

It also provided them with a chance to apply their problem-solving and critical-thinking skills to real-world scenarios. They said the experience was transformative, enriching their personal and professional development and leaving a lasting impact on their careers.


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