The numbers: 16 nonprofits, 130 students, 25 hours. The goal: Students from the University of Miami School of Communication creating new advertising campaigns overnight for South Florida nonprofits at the fourth annual PhilADthropy marathon last Friday and Saturday. The results: Thrilling.
The students' creations will be coming soon to T-Shirts, brochures, web sites, Facebook pages and more.Here's how the marathon went for one team helping a Lauderhill group: FLIPANY, or Florida Introduces Physical Activity and Nutrition to Youth. The nonprofit offers cooking classes and other programs for children and their families in low-income areas.
Friday, 11 a.m.: In a shaded courtyard, participants meet over a buffet lunch. Dean Gregory J. Shepherd notes 11 nonprofits applied the first year, 46 the second, 98 last year and 207 this year to be chosen for the free ad help. "We want to give back and make a difference," Shepherd said.
This year, ad agencies also are lending a hand to the students and alums for the first time, said PhilADthropy creator and leader Meryl Blau, who also is raising two youngsters and just ran her first marathon
12:15 p.m.: Nonprofit leaders fan out to classrooms to meet student teams, each led by a teacher, alum or ad pro. Reps from some half-dozen nonprofits from Broward County include Lynne Kunins, FLIPANY's founder. She asks her team for a new video and materials to help raise more funds. They talk. She leaves.
1:30 p.m.: The team brainstorms and decides footage provided by Kunins won't work. They consider getting testimonials from people who've done the classes, but realize that there's not enough time to find folks, film and edit. They turn to the Internet to share their favorite videos that can serve as inspiration.
2:30 p.m.: The team decides to make an imaginary testimonial. They sketch out a story about a young boy who ate poorly and, through a friend, finds FLIPANY, becomes healthy and feels happy. They decide on an ambitious video with hand-drawings and special effects of filmed hands moving in and out, using the talents of student illustrator Jamie Shankman and student filmmaker Anthony Bono.
3:30 p.m.: Snack break, including raw vegan energy bars. Shankman says her friend described the last PhiLADthropy like this: "You eat a lot. There's so much food."
5 p.m.: Getting more specific, the team gives the boy a name: Andre -- ethnic but for many groups. Shankman says she's inspired by Fat Albert. Others search online for data to make infographics.
6 p.m.: Finance major Cristina Aristizabal finds obesity affects 35.7 percent of U.S. adults and 49 percent of non-Hispanic blacks, based on 2008 Centers for Disease Control data. "That's crazy," she says.
7:25 p.m.: Plates run out on the dinner line for a few minutes. Some whoop when more plates arrive. Ritchie Lucas of Think Factory stresses to students the importance of working with nonprofits: "This isn't about doing a project. This is about everyone here being change agents."
8:30 p.m.: Work continues on copy, videos and print ads. The team awaits the "green-screen" room to film hand gestures. "The poofing smoke cloud may not be quite as easy as you think," cautions Bono.
11:00 p.m.: A security alarm goes off, because some classroom doors usually closed at night are open. When it's turned off, student writer and jokester Jonathan Fernandez says, "Praise Jah....I'm not a Rastafarian. It's just me: a Cuban boy from New Jersey," he tells the diverse team.
11:30 p.m.: The group hits the "green-screen" room. "The closer you get to it, the more shadows you get and the more green tinge, you get on your skin," Bono tells them. He frets:" This is not going to work."
Midnight: Pizza snack and gift-bags. Quips one student: "I did all this work and all I got was a T-shirt." This year's shirt reads: "No one ever looks back and remembers the times they got a good night's sleep."
Saturday 1:30 a.m.: "Guys, the video is 3 minutes and 45 seconds. What can we take out?," asks Bono. Re-record the audio, pick up the pace and make it less formal, the group decides.
2 a.m.: (I slink off to my car, pull a blanket over my head and catch an hour sleep. Shhh, don't tell.)
3:20 a.m.: As some eat cold pizza, teacher Blau sings the Kelly Clarkson song to the team: "What doesn't kill you make you stronger." A student from another group enters the room: "I had to take a break, so I don't end up in a mental hospital." Jokes Jonathan: "We're trying to save the world, 25 hours at a time."
5:30 a.m.: Designer Katherine Lee, who never pulls all-nighters, remains tethered to her computer, exhausted. "I want to stand, but I'm too weak, so I sit and am sick of sitting."
6:10 a.m.: Birds begin to chirp. Blau helps clean up from snacks, coffee cups and Red Bull cans.
7:15 a.m.: Cuban breakfast, complete with cafe con leche. It is Miami, after all. Student Danny Barry remarks: "If you think this is intense, you should see the National Student Advertising Competition," which the UM team won in 2011 and placed fourth last year. "You work 15 to 20 hours a week, at least. It's like a part-time job."
8:35 a.m.: FLIPANY team captain Christian Napolitano worries their idea is taking too long to execute.
10:10 a.m.: Student designer Katherine Lee changes from a tie-dye T-shirt to a conservative top and jacket to ready for the client. The video team hustles. "We have a version we can use without hands," said Napolitano.
10:51 a.m.: "We did it guys. We did it," proclaims Fernandez, as the video is done -- hands and all.
11:10 a.m.: Participants gather in the auditorium for a UM video of the 16 teams working.
11:30 a.m.: FLIPANY's Kunins sits for the presentation. "I was feeling a little guilty going to bed. I sent you a text and slept with the phone by my bed," she tells the team. Shown the video and materials for postcards and T-shirts, she claps and high-fives the group:"That is fabulous, I love it." She's hooked on the catch phrase: FLIPTIP, to offer tips on healthy living via Twitter and keen to print a motivational design on posters and T-shirts. "If you make a donation of $35 or more, you'll get this shirt."
Noon: Participants leave -- on a high. "I expected more of our hokey social services stuff," Kunins admits. "This is cool. It's what the community needs."
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