My Global Experience – New York Advertising Week (2018)

At the beginning of October, I was given the chance to travel to New York for Advertising Week through Centennial College’s SaGE Program. As an advertising student, AdWeek is a great opportunity to explore a new city, network with industry professionals, and learn more about industry issues.

Seminar Highlights

Over four days, I attended eight seminars that I thought would best address where advertising was headed in the future. I wanted to learn about the issues that would impact my career when I graduated.

Day One

“One of our most powerful weapons was silence.”
-Daniel Fink, Executive Director at Marvel Entertainment

The most interesting seminar I attended on the first day was “Marvel and the Power of Podcast Storytelling for Brands.” After learning about the rise of podcasts in class, I wanted to understand how podcasts will soon become part of advertising communications platforms. Executive Director for Marvel Entertainment, Daniel Fink, discussed the creation of Wolverine: The Long Night. He addressed the struggle of turning X-Men’s Wolverine from an action-based character into an intriguing audio-based storyteller. For Daniel Fink, “one of our most powerful weapons was silence.” By refusing to give the audience information for a few seconds Marvel discovered how to make podcasts compelling. I think it is important that brands also learn how to build tension and intrigue to keep consumers interested in an audio-based medium. What struck me most was the realization that the rise of podcasts will mean brands will also soon need an audio identity, which will add a new level of intricacy for advertisers.

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Day Two

“The format of your message is just as important as the message itself.”
-Joe Federer, Brand Strategist at Reddit

On the second day, my favourite seminar was “Memeology 101: The New Language of Cultural Ideas.” Brand Strategist for Reddit, Joe Federer, considered how brands could use the format of a meme and alter the content to reach young consumers in a more relatable way. He stressed, “The format of your message is just as important as the message itself.” The panel discussed how advertisers must understand that an image overlaid with text can be more culturally powerful than a Tweet. What I found most interesting was that the challenge for advertisers is to use memes organically. Memes are often based on current events and cannot be planned in advance. In an industry where planning is critical, it will be interesting to see how we will learn to recognize the potential for memes as they arise and jump on them quickly.

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Day Three

“Just because your movie was ranked number one that week doesn’t mean it was a good movie. There may have just not been any good movies out that week.”
-Will Smith

Personally, the most memorable seminar of all of AdWeek was “The Jump with Will Smith: One Iconic Storyteller’s Journey of Reinvention and Connection.” Will Smith discussed the recent launch of his YouTube channel and the lessons he learned from producing engaging content. He realized that metrics are not always the most important factor. He related this insight back to his film career, stating, “Just because your movie was ranked number one that week doesn’t mean it was a good movie. There may have just not been any good movies out that week.” I found this relatable to advertising because we will need to not just look at numbers. Rather, we need to also consider what people are saying about the ads and the brands. Just because people had exposure to an ad doesn’t mean they bought a product or viewed the ad favourably. Overall, I was impressed by Will Smith’s insight and charisma and I think he made a very interesting presentation about how to be a good storyteller.

Day Four

“Time spent on stories will pass time spent on feed.”
– Nicolò Brentan, Head of Sales at MakeMeReach

On the last day, the seminar that stood out most to me was “The Social Evolution.” While most advertising students are aware of digital becoming more impactful than traditional media, it was interesting to see how things are changing even within social media. According to Nicolò Brendan, Head of Sales at MakeMeReach, “time spent on stories will pass time spent on feed.” The reason for this shift is because stories feel more natural and authentic to consumers than carefully planned posts. I think it was important to understand that prioritizing social media alone will not be enough shortly. Consumers are now shifting their focus from permanent posts to temporary stories which change how advertisers can best reach consumers. As someone entering the industry, it will be important to recognize these trends and understand how to capitalize on them.

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Amidst the flurry of attendees rushing between seminars were vendors showcasing new technology, and offering treats and prizes. I loved that there was always something new and exciting to see and try at AdWeek.


In addition to attending AdWeek seminars, we also had the opportunity to explore Manhattan. It was surreal to experience a place in the person that you always see in movies. While we explored many of New York’s notable locations and restaurants, my most memorable experiences were going to Times Square and The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met).

Times Square
The first night my classmates and I arrived in New York, we decided to travel to the most iconic place in Manhattan, Times Square. The streets may have been busy with people but the buildings were even busier with ads. It was hard to know where to look with the flashing lights, giant billboards, and noise. I do not think there is a better place for an advertising student to get a sense of the impact of the industry than Times Square.

The Met
Except for the seminars, my favourite experience from the trip was going to The Met. As a self-identified history buff, seeing a massive collection of ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Roman artifacts made me feel like a kid in a candy shop. One of my favourite exhibits was a reconstructed Egyptian temple that dominated an entire room. I am so thankful that we made time to go to The Met and I believe that any person, no matter his or her interest in history, can find something there that astounds them.

The Takeaway

Overall, travelling to New York for AdWeek was an amazing experience. Throughout the conference, I was able to gain further insight into topics I was previously mindful of. Yet, I was surprised that I also become aware of upcoming industry issues that I was not previously aware of but should investigate further since they will impact my career. Centennial’s SaGE Program has afforded me professional growth and the ability to travel with my classmates to a place I have always wanted to visit.


Thank you SaGE for an unforgettable Global Experience!

Written by: Lauren Clancy

Sancti Spiritus, Cuba – GCELE Experience

Sancti Spiritus, Cuba… Where do I even begin? This GCELE was literally a trip of a lifetime for me. I learned things I never thought I could learn, went through experiences I never would have imagined, met Cuban friends that I never thought I would have met and travelled with an amazing group of people from Centennial!

While in Sancti Spiritus, I really got a taste of what it’s like to live in Cuba. I went on this trip with the mindset that I would be helping the people there, but in reality, the people of Cuba taught me and helped me more than anything. I learned a lot about the permaculture movement happening in Cuba and what that meant in regards to their food security. It was moving and inspiring to get to know how the Cubans we met lived a life that revolved around nature and taking care of the land, while living off of it as well.

Many of the farmers were teachers, engineers and ordinary people with other jobs. They had farms and gardens as a side activity. I thought this alone was moving because taking care of these farms and gardens is a big and task requiring a lot of hard work! Since I know how to speak a bit of Spanish, I was able to speak with some of the farmers and I honestly learned so much from them. They are so wise, knowledgeable and humble in all that they do – it was amazing to meet people like them.

All of my new Cuban friends are always in my heart and without a doubt, I will be returning to Sancti Spiritus to see them again!  I also got the chance to plant banana trees, papaya, sweet potatoes and coffee. I was actually in the dirt and planting! It was such an awesome feeling, mainly because, before this trip I would have never ever thought I would be working in a farm and getting dirty – or even planting anything at all!

Learning about permaculture in Cuba opened my eyes to our own food security in Toronto and what that really means for us. I also stayed at the foundation’s museum, and something that I had to get used to was the water shortage. Mostly during the days, the water would run out and return in the evening. I never had to deal with anything like this in Toronto, so it was something that made me realize just how grateful I should be for something as simple as having unlimited access to water in my home. From the drives in cars from the 50’s, to the delicious food, to the vibrant energy of the Cuban people, to the endless laughs and memories, I can honestly say that I enjoyed every second of it.

All in all, this trip was unreal. When I was back in Toronto and it came time to tell all my friends and family about it, I found myself having difficulties putting it all into words. It’s one of those experiences that you just had to be there to really get it! I am so grateful to have been given this opportunity by Centennial. I think that GCELE’s are such an amazing part of this College. Because of this trip, I have memories that will last a lifetime, lived through experiences that have changed me as a person and made amazing new friends. Without a doubt, this GCELE was absolutely and unforgettably INCREDIBLE.

By: Inez Tarditti-Falconer

Adapt, Learn, Grow

(*Note: Originally published on Sunday, Jan 13 but apparently it didn’t work)

Hello again!

So here I am retroactively writing my blog because time flies when you’re having fun and it could not be more true now that I have spent just over a week* here in Cancun.

I have also been to Playa del Carmen (about one hour away) both weekends and Cozumel (a 45 min ferry ride from Playa del Carmen) just today with my father! It’s been a lot to take in but I’ve been mentally blogging and looking forward to a “time out” from all the adventure to publish my thoughts.

There is so much I want to write about, like the fabulous time I’ve spent with my dad, the house I am living in with two roommates (I moved in on Friday) and my school life but one blog post at a time.

Today, I’m going to discuss what I hope to gain from this wonderful opportunity in three areas of my life: academically, professionally, and personally. Here goes!

I took off on this adventure for many reasons but to summarize them I wanted to do my version of “Eat, Pray, Love” which I have cleverly renamed in a more literal sense to my situation “Adapt, Learn, Grown”.

Personally, I needed this retreat to save my soul (drama queen much?). I think there comes a time in everyone’s life where everything is just so mundane and you need a change, nothing makes you happy any more no matter how much it should, well that time was on my clock. Also, I’m a huge believer in astrology and being a summer baby (Cancerian of the Zodiac) I need the sun and ocean, it gives me energy…so winter always makes me depressed back home. This change of scenery, beautiful climate, and a new culture is something the doctor could not prescribe! I think it’s good for any body’s spirit and I am grateful I could make my great escape to this beautiful place.

It’s very important for me to become truly self-reliant and independent. Though I’ve experienced fleeting moments of wanting to go back home, I know you have to challenge yourself in order to discover all the potential you have within.

Being in alone in a different country I only have myself to count on, I must make my decisions using my best judgement because there’s no best friend here to cross-reference with or back me up if I’m in a jam, I have to adapt and go with the flow as well -which I’m having some difficulty with. Though I’ve lived in Europe before it’s completely different here, the laissez-faire attitude and the lack of mobility on your own (buses are not ideal or that easily accessible) makes you feel like you have shackles on your feet. Not to mention a) it’s WAY too hot to walk around, and b) it’s not pedestrian-friendly so I have to depend on my roommate who luckily has a car but he also works & is not my personal chauffeur though he is more than willing to help me out. Patience is a virtue. However, all of the differences have opened my eyes to see how fortunate I am for everything I have back home and the beautiful country I live in O’ Canada!  Moving on…

Academically, this opportunity will allow me to perfect my Spanish as well as formally learn to read and write as I realized in class this week, I am familiar with the material but I am missing the technical terms so it will take some effort on my part to do the work. My classmates have been helpful with my note-taking (as some teachers will deduct marks for spelling errors in your notes…yes they actually check that you’re taking notes..) my classmates and I will exchange English lessons for Spanish writing lessons. The business Spanish will certainly benefit me in my career. (Side note: I am also taking a basic french class which is a great refresher as I am already fluent but it’s been ages since I reviewed verbs and adjectives. Also, how small is the world that my teacher is from Quebec!)

Professionally, I aim to investigate international companies to see if someone could have an informational interview with me. Ideally, I would like to talk with someone from Coca Cola as the beverage market is huge here, since the water is undrinkable plus once you tire of water there are many juices and soft drinks to choose from, a lot of which are made by Coca Cola.    I will research other companies that do business with Canada too.

My dream job will allow me to travel (preferably somewhere hot), use my languages, and use my socio-cultural skills to enhance the companies business and client relationships. Maybe I’ll find future employment here in Cancun!

All in all, with just 9 days (*now 11 days) in the bag I feel positive about the road ahead and I look forward to navigating it and documenting it along the way!

I will definitely be seeking words of wisdom to keep me inspired and so for tonight,

Change and growth take place when a person has risked himself and dares to become involved with experimenting with his own life. 
Herbert Otto