Advertising student portfolio one of only 11 chosen for Communication Arts Student Showcase

Students from around the world submitted work for the 2021 Communication Arts Student Showcase, but only 11 portfolios were included. Among those was the portfolio of Newhouse advertising alumnus Sam Luo ’21, who was recognized for work he created as a student. Luo was one of only two creative advertising students in the group.

Sam Luo
Sam Luo

In a LinkedIn post, Communication Arts said Luo’s work “sparkles with clever visual symbolism.” Winners were selected for “originality of their ideas and their professional-level production skills.”

“Sam’s work always stood out in class at Newhouse, and then it stood out on an international scale,” says advertising professor of practice Mel White. “It’s simply impressive.”

“The advertising business is competitive at its core; among agencies and within agencies,” says advertising professor of practice Kevin O’Neill. “These award competitions embed that understanding in our students.”

Luo was recognized for his work on three campaigns: Girls Who Code, Jeep and TEDxSU.

“It is great to have something that reminds me that I’ve done good work and being selected as part of the Communication Arts student showcase has given me a lot of encouragement,” Luo says.

Luo created the Girls Who Code print ad campaign “A Step Behind” with Olivia Gormley ’20 to show how girls who are not exposed to problem-solving activities early in life are less likely to consider careers in STEM. The print ad campaign features aerial shots of an athletic track, a pool and a racetrack with one starting line further back than the rest to show that in STEM fields, girls are behind before they even start. This campaign was created in White’s Portfolio III course.

“The campaign for Girls Who Code is very compelling because it has impactful visuals that clearly show how the gap in technology-focused careers for girls starts when they’re young,” White says. “It’s pretty common for boys to be introduced to toys and ideas that inspire an interest in STEM. Introducing girls to things like LEGOs, Lincoln Logs, robotics, rockets and science experiments is not nearly as common because they are seen as male interests. Sam’s stunning visuals using different race tracks or lanes clearly show that this kind of thinking puts girls at a disadvantage. But Girls Who Code can help close this gap by helping introduce girls to STEM early in their lives.”

Luo’s Jeep print ad campaign “Go Wild” uses extreme closeups of zebra stripes, giraffe spots and crocodile scales to mimic different landscapes, showing Jeep’s adaptability and ability to get drivers through the wildest terrain. This campaign was created in O’Neill’s Portfolio II course.

“I thought the animal prints would make great visuals, because from a bird’s eye perspective, they do look like landscapes, and the patterns look like zigzagging roads,” Luo says. “I wondered how to strategically use these visuals for a client and what kind of product would benefit from this kind of visual solution. Jeep came to mind because one of my friends owns one and talks about how great it is in the mountains and on road trips.”

The posters and designs Luo created for the TEDxSU 2020 event used the idea of “a seat at the table” or “a place on stage.” Luo says this means TEDx will offer anyone who has an idea worth sharing a fair opportunity to be represented on the Syracuse University stage.

“The idea came to me pretty quickly,” Luo says. “It was all about giving students a voice and a stage for them to tell the story that they had, they believed in and they lived through. Through that way of thinking came the spotlight image in my head.”

The Student Showcase is published each year in Communication Arts’ Interactive Annual. Communication Arts is a leading trade journal for visual communications and the largest creative magazine in the world.

Samantha Savery is a graduate student in the Goldring arts journalism and communications program.