Michael Farmer in Media Village: Forget the Ivy League

By BIC Program Director Nancy R. Tag

BIC Professor and Board member Michael Farmer knows what he’s talking about. A Princeton English major with a Harvard MBA, he’s been a high-level international consultant for decades, clocking in some time as director of Bain & Company, founding its office in Paris. The third edition of his book Madison Avenue Manslaughter includes a forward from Sir Martin Sorrell.

So when he speaks, we listen. What’s he saying right now? If you want to be in the trenches with a smart and focused professional during a global health crisis, amid societal unrest, and with an industry in turmoil, pick a BICster.

When Michael agreed to teach in my graduate program in Branding and Integrated Communications (BIC), I felt so lucky. He not only fills the classroom with his vast knowledge, leadership, and compassion, but with guest speakers who are at the top of their game (Former Saatchi & Saatchi CEO Brian Sheehan is featured in the photo below). But the thing that tickles me the most about Professor Farmer is the utter joy he derives from the BIC students he teaches. He captured this in a recent article —a tribute, actually — for Media Village in which he shares tales from BICsters in his Internal Management course.

Two of my favorites tales from the article:

"One of my students grew up in Castro’s Cuba during the Período Especial, when aid from the Soviet Union collapsed. As a child, she chanted, 'Pioneers for Communism, we will be like Che!' every morning at the commencement of classes."

"Another was born in Afghanistan during the political turmoil of the Soviet Union communist regime and the Mujahedeen resistance in the 1980's. He has worked on reconstruction projects and was able to come to the U.S. with his family on a green card due to his extraordinary efforts for USAID."

In Media Village, he summaries: “Our students are not put off by Madison Avenue's manslaughter -- they are used to upheavals, toughened by their personal experiences, and eager to attack the real world with all its opportunities. For an industry needing transformation, diversity, equity and inclusion, CCNY stands ready, as it always has, to provide well-educated graduates who have the right stuff.”

As always, well said, Michael! To read the entire Media Village article, go here.  Please do. It will inspire you.

Behind the Scenes with Creative Team Vera Keiter BIC ’15 & Delilah Kim

On January 12th, 2021, one of our favorite creative teams, Vera Keiter BIC ’15 and Delilah Kim, hit the BIC grid for "How Creativity WORKS," our new speaker series which explores how to transform your passion into a profession and creativity into a career through the lens of successful BIC alums.  A copywriter/art director duo since first meeting at BBDO, Vera and Delilah spoke candidly about their award-winning projects, how creativity fuels their professional (and personal) life, and the secret to having an effective creative partnership.  In addition to working together at BBDO, 160over90, and now Facebook, Vera and Delilah were featured in The Drum's 50 Under 30 in 2018 and have team-taught B3011 Multi-Media Executions in the BIC Program.

So exactly how does creativity work? BIC Program Director Nancy R. Tag demonstrated the importance of creativity by first asking the audience to consider  life without it. Responses included "defeated," "depressing," "rigid," "dull," and "boring." She then introduced Vera and Delilah by playing one of their recent commercials for Aviation Gin Commercial -- a perfect example of how creativity is put to work. 

Vera and Delilah jumped into the conversation by spilling the tea on how a celebrity brand turned Arlene Mako, an 84-year-old gin drinker, into an unexpected star. What inspired the idea? What was the process of transforming a big idea into a produced commercial? And how cute is Ryan Reynolds? 

It turns out that the process was fairly unconventional -- a lot like the agency where they were working, 160over90which sits inside leading entertainment and media talent agency William Morris EndeavorAs a talent-forward agency, creatives often receive "open briefs" not for a specific brand, but built around a personality, an occasion, or some other trigger. The creative catalyst for this particular brief was Leap Year. For Vera and Delilah, the brainstorming got interesting when considering what life was like for "leaplings," people born on Leap Day who celebrate their birthday every four years. What were some of the challenges when their "official" age was significantly lower their actual age? One light-bulb: they're not allowed to legally drink alcohol until they're 84! Suddenly, the product category became clear and they searched among 160over90's long roster of alcoholic brands for the perfect sponsor, zeroing in on Ryan Reynolds' Aviation Gin. Not only did Reynolds love the pitch, he made the production happen in a matter of weeks so it could air in time for Arlene's 21st birthday on Leap Day 2020. 

The Aviation Gin commercial proves why these two are a match made in creative heaven! When asked about their unique dynamic, Delilah spoke about how “when we started working together, we realized that our priorities for the creative process were very similar...This is the thing that keeps teams together.” 

After their gig at 160over90the team made their own leap to Facebook where they are currently Senior Creatives working on brand messaging around Facebook's mother brand. Delilah spoke about how a lot of what they do is around storytelling of people who use the platform. She added that “finding creativity in this job is about finding the right stories.” You can check out their work here.
Nancy wrapped up the conversation by asking Vera how her BIC degree made a creative career work for her. “BIC is the only program that teaches creatives to be more than just creatives," Vera explained. "It helps you understand other people in the agency.” BIC grads accelerate faster. Beyond just developing a portfolio for that first job, they become true professionals who are well-rounded, collaborative, and strategic innovators who see the big picture.  

But the evening didn't end there.... Prospective students interested in the Creative Track stuck around for "LATE NIGHT with Gerardo" where BIC Professor & Creative Track Director Gerardo Blumenkrantz provided tips and tricks for submitting a killer BIC Admissions Portfolio and answered questions from prospective students. 

Overall it was a fantastic evening. A big BIC thank you to Vera and Delilah for sharing their creative wisdom and letting us in on How Creativity WORKS for them. Stay tuned for our next alumni conversation in our newest series. 

Curiosity Seekers: The BIC Spring Virtual Open House

On Wednesday, March 17th 2021, BIC opens its virtual doors to curious candidates interested in applying to the BIC Master's Program for Fall 2021! 


The BIC Info Session

4:30PM - 5:30PM via Zoom

Join us on Zoom as BIC Program Director Nancy R. Tag and Program Manager Marlene Leo present an overview of the program and details on how to package your application. You'll also hear from current BICsters, plus time for Q&A -- come with questions!


@BIC Lecture "The Crisis of Our Time: Why Health Communications Matters Now More Than Ever."

6:00PM - 7:00PM via Zoom

BIC welcomes Carl Turner and Amy Gómez, from Klick Health, the world's largest independent commercialization partner for life sciences. In the age of COVID, the issues of healthcare innovation, access, and policy have come into sharp focus. As communicators, we are in a position to make a difference.

Klick VP of Diversity Strategy, Amy Gómez states: “It's exciting to be in the center of the crisis of our time.” Find out why health communications matters more than ever if you want to help shape the conversation, set public policy, and make the world a better place.


LATE NIGHT with Gerardo

7:00PM - 8:00PM via Zoom

Interested in applying to BIC’s Creative Track? Admissions candidates should stick around! BIC Professor Gerardo Blumenkrantz will provide tips on BIC Admissions Portfolios. Have your spec work handy — if there’s time, you’ll even get a personalized assessment.

You don't want to miss this! RSVP here

BIC Prof Sandra Stahl: Big Losses and Small Wins

"As agencies large and small struggled to keep their business and their staff, we doubled down on delivering a steady stream of small wins for our clients that underscored our value. As a result, plus a little luck, we actually grew our business in 2020." - Sandra Stahl 

Founding BIC Faculty Member, Acting PR Track Advisor and co-founder of jacobstahl, Sandra Stahl recently spoke to Media Brief about life, work, the impact of COVID-19 on her personally & professionally and the power of small wins. Read more HERE

Six Amazing BIC Alums WIN Six Amazing Mentors in Ad Club's Inaugural Mentorship Program

Six BIC alumni were among the 31 young professionals selected for The AD Club’s ANDY Awards inaugural mentorship program. The BIC alums are Breanna Arthur, Surabhi Govindarajan, Natalie Alcide, Carmen Quang, Jose Flores Fresan, & Castro Desroches. Two undergrads from the CCNY Ad/PR Program also were awarded. Mentees are to be matched with ANDYs Jurors (see the list here) for a one-year mentorship with monthly meetings. These industry leaders include Jayanta Jenkins, Head of Content Marketing, Disney+, San Francisco, Margaret Johnson, Executive Creative Director / Partner, GS&P, San Francisco, Andrew Keller, VP, Global Creative Director, Facebook, New York and David Lee, Chief Creative Officer, Squarespace, New York.

The mentorship program was launched by PJ Pereira, 2021 Chair of the ANDY awards, in order to restructure the prestigious awards show so it's not just a self-congratulatory event, but driven by a purpose: to make positive change on the industry. This year's jurors were required to commit to mentoring talent from underrepresented communities and backgrounds.  

Potential mentees from the BIC program were first nominated by Nancy R. Tag, BIC Program Director, who identified young pros among BIC's alumni who were talented, already making an impact in the industry, have hustle, and are from an underrepresented community or background; initial nominees needed to be passionate about changing the face of advertising to make the industry more diverse and inclusive in the next ten years. CUNY Professor Rebecca Rivera (BIC ’19) then helped vet and select all mentee candidates in partnership with ANDYs Jury Chair PJ Pereira and The Advertising Club NY.

Some of the ANDY jurists who have volunteered to be mentors.

Professor Tag stated, “I’m impressed by the purpose-oriented shift of the ANDY Awards this year, which has historically made an impact on the industry. This was made possible by Awards Chair PJ Pereira’s leadership and creativity, as well as to the AD Club's vision. I’m also extremely grateful to Rebecca Rivera for helping to bring this program to life with a spotlight on BIC. Her tenacity and commitment to elevating diverse talent have moved the ball forward once again. And of course, seeing so many amazing BIC alums on this list is the most gratifying part. A big BIC bravo to them all!"

Here's the press release about the ANDYs and this program: https://bit.ly/2L6XglA  

BICster Melissa Lee Awarded $10,000 by She Runs It!

We already knew Melissa Lee BIC '20 was a rising star, but She Runs It has made it official!  Congratulations to Melissa for being awarded $10,000 by She Runs It as part of its 2021 Loan Relief. Every year for the past nine years, the She Runs It Foundation has donated $10,000 checks to rising stars in marketing, media and tech to help relieve the burden of education loan debt. 

The Foundation also offers year-round educational networking, mentoring, and leadership development programming for industry professionals at each career stage. We're inspired by Lynn Branigan, CEO & President of She Runs It, for propelling more women to the head of the table and enabling female talent to realize their full potential as leaders.

And who's more worthy than Melissa? After graduating from BIC in May 2020, Melissa became a Senior Associate Planner at Wavemaker, a WPP agency focused on reshaping consumer decision-making and experiences through media, content, and technology. At Wavemaker, Melissa is servicing the L’Oreal business across the Luxe division (Giorgio Armani, Mugler, YSL, Ralph Lauren Fragrances, etc.) providing strategic media plans including digital and traditional mediums. 

We're so proud of you, Melissa! Keep on shining!

Read the full article here

2021 DezMax Scholarship Winners Address Global Warming, Covid-19 Vaccination & Bronx Community Organizing

Congratulations to this year's DezMax Scholarship winners, Paul Bernabe BIC '21, Emma Rayner BIC '22, and Natalie Figueroa BIC '22. Each submission fulfilled the award's criteria which asks BICsters to develop a communications project that champions a cause with persuasion, passion, and charisma. 

Winner: Paul Bernabe, BIC Class of 2021

For his winning submission, Paul tackled climate change, citing deforestation as one of the leading contributors to global warming. To make a difference, his proposal would support non-profit Rainforest Trust which partners with local organizations around the world to purchase and preserve threatened tropical forests. 

Paul has long enjoyed playing video games; however, his big gripe is that all that time spent in the virtual world doesn’t make much of an impact on the real world. His light bulb moment: What if he could develop a game that actually added value to his life or helped the real world? ​That would be something worth playing. So for his DezMax submission, Paul created a mobile game called "Earth Defenders." Set up like a tower defense game, enemies walk along a path while the player builds towers to eliminate any threats that come along. By partnering with charitable corporations and individuals, the game would reward Rainforest Trust with a small donation every time players complete levels. Players can also give support by buying upgrades within the app or watching an ad to generate revenue for Rainforest Trust. 

His proposal for the DezMax scholarship included market research, a business proposal, mock-up of the mobile game as well as an integrated communications campaign to promote Earth Defenders and champion the cause. 

Paul first started thinking about Earth Defenders in last semester’s Multi-Media class taught by Professor Ricard Valero. "I’m proud of what I’ve made with Earth Defenders. I’ve come out of this project more passionate and knowledgeable about tackling the climate challenges we face today and in the future." 

Runner Up: Emma Rayner, BIC Class of 2022

Utilizing some preliminary research on vaccination skepticism that she did in Professor Michael Doody's Strategy course, Emma developed a communications campaign that encouraged communities to roll up their sleeves to fight Covid-19.  Her research indicated that the most effective way to encourage people to get vaccinated is to emphasize the benefits of being a protector of others. This led Emma to leverage community involvement by highlighting local heroes or “neighborhood protectors” who are already trusted within the community. In her communications campaign "Protect to Reconnect," local heroes and everyday Americans share their more selfless reasons to get vaccinated on Instagram and owned media with the aim of encouraging their neighbors to do the same. 

"The idea is ultimately to turn every vaccinated American into a ‘local hero’ who protects other Americans in the final battle against COVID-19."

Merit: Natalie Figueroa, BIC Class of 2022

As a Bronx Latina, Natalie's lifelong mission is to help people in hardship situations find meaningful connections that launch them towards life-changing opportunities. In her proposal for "Bronx CXN," Natalie would build an organization for Bronx people by Bronx people that is entirely dedicated to providing career-preparation and network-building workshops and events. This organization would be a building block in creating a more positive image for the borough and to debunk some of the negative connotations often associated with the Bronx. 

Natalie said, "My ultimate wish is for the Bronx to become someplace others go to instead of moving away from to find success."

ABOUT the Desmond Maxwell (DezMax) Cause + Charisma Scholarship. As a student in BIC's inaugural Class of 2015, Desmond Maxwell was a successful media consultant, boastful undergraduate of City College, and proud member of the US Marine Corps, having served with distinction. He often said with great pride that he was “born and buttered in Harlem.” Dez was not just a charismatic man, but a generously supportive and inspiring classmate who championed causes that were close to his heart. Sadly, Dez died a few months before graduation. However, through the generosity of classmates, BIC Board Members, and friends (with a special shout out to GroupM), BIC was able to set up the DezMax Scholarship in his honor. Each year, BIC students compete for $4,000 in scholarship money with proposals that best demonstrate a communications-based solution to a societal problem.

Interested in donating to the DezMax Scholarship fund? Ask bic@ccny.cuny.edu how...

Career Happy with Job Coach Hillary Black

This Spring, BIC is excited to welcome Hillary Black, VP, Global Executive Recruitment & Leadership Development at WPP, who has over 25 years of experience in cultivating talent and accelerating professional growth. Over the course of four months, Hillary will be holding a series of professional development workshops exclusively for BICsters that will provide guided steps on how to improve and optimize their professional brand. BICsters will receive templates, insider tips, and easy outlines to help them network with confidence and without anxiety. The lunchtime sessions include: 

TUESDAY, JANUARY 19TH >> Job Search Strategy 

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 9TH >> Every bit of White Space is another LinkedIn Enhancement Moment (and Other Resume Builders) 

TUESDAY, MARCH 9TH >> Interview Skills & Etiquette: Pre-PiP Edition 

TUESDAY, APRIL 6TH >> Beyond the Click and Connect: Building Meaningful Relationships

As the former managing director and partner at Kay & Black, a leading talent management firm, and currently a VP, Global Executive Recruitment & Leadership Development at WPP, Hillary connects communications clients with top creatives and marketing professionals. With 25 years in the advertising industry and a keen understanding of creative talent, organizational culture, and team dynamics, she has a proven track record of finding the perfect fit for both candidates and agencies. Hillary recently received her Master’s in Social Work from Fordham University. This experience, combined with a Bachelors in Psychology, gives her additional insight into human nature, which she channels through career counseling and guidance. She’s worked with General Assembly, The One Club, WeWork, Dentsu, The 4As, She Runs It, Ladies Get Paid, PowerToFly, LMHQ, Hustle Fest as well as the Young Ones Education Festival, Marist College, School of Visual Arts, and the Fashion Institute of Technology.

Be A BICster for a Night!

Ever wonder what it's like to be a BIC student? Then be a "BICster for a Night." Join us this February as BIC opens up its classrooms for a test drive. Pick a class (or two) and sit in on the lecture. Check out the schedule and course descriptions below. RSVP for the Zoom link. 


B2003 Brand Experience (Foundational Course required for all tracks)
Anchored by a unified identity and enabled by technology, the way that brands are experienced by consumers takes a wide variety of forms and formats. This survey class explores methods of creating brand experience in physical, digital, traditional and experimental ways and delves into the coordinated application of mass, personal and social media to create rich sensory environments. Taught by Partner/President of Research & Strategy at PSFK Scott Lachut.


B3002 Consumer Behavior & Persuasion (Required Course for Management & Planning Track)
One part psychology and one part communications theory, this course helps us understand what really motivates people today (especially those we like to call “consumers”). Through readings, case studies and hands-on exercises, students will explore how various models of persuasion and psychology can provide the lens through which brands can design meaningful market research and tailor effective communications which persuade the intended audience. Taught by Founder and Chief Strategy Officer at The [blank] Project Michael Doody.


B3003 Internal Management (Required Course for Management & Planning Track)
Advertising and Marketing Communications is no longer an industry of “idea development” where brand identity is generated through one way forms of storytelling; it must now include new forms of consumer engagement which require managed storyBUILDING. This presents new challenges in the ways in which managers must be fluent in developing strategies, fostering collaboration, evaluating content, visualizing information, reacting to consumer participation, making persuasive presentations – all while breaking down agency silos that inhibit productivity and collaboration. Today's agency manager must not just manage a process-driven environment, but be change agents that create a healthy, dynamic, and sustainable culture. Co-taught by Executive Chairman at Trinity P3 USA Marketing Management Consultants Michael Farmer and Founder & Strategic Advisor at Rodes Advisory LLC Rodes Ponzer.

B3020 Branding Influentials 
(Required Course for Public Relations Track)
This course explores the evolving role of influence and influencers in brand communications. Can an individual, a group of like-minded people, an organization representing a compelling cause, or even a pet with a following, play an outsized role in market behavior? How a brand can harness this power is crucial in communications today. Taught by Managing Director at jacobstahl, a Bloom company Sandra Stahl.

B3010 Creative Concepts (Required Course for Creative Track)
An advanced studio course in the BIC Creative Track for development of campaign concepts in the print medium. Based on strategic thinking, students will have the opportunity to create a number of campaign concepts that unite “art & copy” with an eye towards further development and inclusion in a spec book – or pre-professional portfolio. Students learn how to identify specific problems a brand may face and how to solve them through persuasive print advertising. Co-taught by Associate Creative Director at Grey Group Marina Beldi and Associate Creative Director at VaynerMedia | Founder of Make Ads With Me | D&AD New Blood Judge Jessica Lomasson.


B3022 PR Branding Campaigns (Required Course for Public Relations Track)
This course is about bringing to life the value and application of creating compelling comms campaigns in an integrated way. The goal of the class will be to equip students with the tools they need to create compelling public relations efforts that are grounded in research, sharp with strategy, solve business objectives, tell a good story, and amplify stakeholder’s perspectives on behalf of a brand or company. Taught by Managing Partner, jacobstahl, a Bloom company Jeremy Jacob.

Regular Admissions Deadline April 1st, 2021

New Year. New Semester. New BIC Faculty.

It's a New Year which means a new semester and new BIC faculty! A special welcome to four new BIC faculty who will be teaching advanced track courses in Public Relations, Management, and Creative.

B3010 Creative Concepts will be co-taught by Marina Beldi and Jessica Lomasson.

Marina Beldi is an Italian/Brazilian award-winning Associate Creative Director at Grey Group (soon to be AKQA Group). Raised in an entrepreneurial family, which lead her to be a stock investor at age 11 years old but she decided to experience different cultures and left home before turning 15. She started her career as a graphic & textile designer. Later she found herself in advertising, where she worked and collaborated on award-winning projects in agencies around the globe for brands like Grubhub, Intel, Nike, TAP Air Portugal, Faber-Castell, and many others.

After living in 10 different countries she found her favorite and now she's currently based in Brooklyn. Other than advertising, she has a passion for teaching the new generation of creatives at Portfolio Schools as well as cataloging her travels with photographs she has taken around the globe.

For nearly a decade Jessica Lomasson has been a copywriter by day, and well...a copywriter by night most of the time too—presently as an Associate Creative Director at VaynerMedia. More importantly, she's discovered that the only thing she enjoys more than producing killer work, is helping others do the same. Which is why she founded Make Ads With Me, a community to help aspiring creatives find partners to build their portfolios, gain access to educational resources, and receive mentorship from industry pros. It's also why she can't wait to help even more creatives find their path by joining our BIC family.

B3010 Creative Concepts is an advanced studio course in the BIC Creative Track for the development of campaign concepts in two dimensions. Based on strategic thinking, students will have the opportunity to create a number of campaign concepts that unite “art and copy” with an eye towards further development and inclusion in a spec book – or pre-professional portfolio.

B8515 - Content Marketing will be taught by Melanie Deziel, a keynote speaker, author, award-winning branded content creator and lifelong storyteller. Melanie is the author of “The Content Fuel Framework: How to Generate Unlimited Story Ideas”, and the Founder of StoryFuel, which teaches marketers, creators and companies of all sizes how to create better content. Melanie was the first editor of branded content at The New York Times, a founding member of HuffPost’s brand storytelling team, and served as Director of Creative Strategy for Time Inc.

Content is an increasingly important marketing and branding tool for reaching, engaging and retaining customers, and yet, few of us were trained to come up with enough ideas to satisfy the endless platforms and purposes we need content for. Using a simple and flexible framework, this intensive course will get your creative juices flowing and teach you how to generate a seemingly endless number of unique and compelling content ideas to build your personal brand or that of an organization.

B3012 Design and Portfolio Development will be taught by Art Director and BIC alum, Castro Desroches BIC '16. Castro was born and raised in New York. Most first-generation Haitians born in the U.S. traditionally have parents who inflict a great deal of pain upon them in molding them into doctors, lawyers or anything else they perceive as practical. Thankfully, Castro’s parents didn’t take that path, and by chance he still turned out great. 

Castro attended school at the City College of New York for both his undergraduate degree in Design and Multimedia and his graduate degree in Branding and Integrated Communications. Castro started at Droga5 right after graduating from BIC and just before his portfolio was featured in an AdWeek story titled “This Art Director Put His Entire Portfolio on Instagram.” 

Castro's impressive resume includes a number of high profile spots such as Beats by Dre, Rivian Twizzlers, Under Armour, Prudential, Google, Instagram Portfolio, Viral Status, “Ezra” and Mozilla Firefox.

B3012 Design and Portfolio Development is an advanced studio course in the BIC Creative Track where students work individually and in art director/copywriter teams to bring conceptual ideas to life via design skills, polished writing, and design software basics in order to enhance their existing campaigns and produce new work, for inclusion in their spec book and to be uploaded to an online portfolio. Final critiques will include a formal portfolio review with industry professionals.

Welcome to the BIC family! We're so excited to have you on board and can't wait to see the work you do with our BICsters!