Newhouse Impact: Research and Creative Activity Roundup

A roundup of recent research and creative activity by Newhouse students, faculty and staff, along with accolades and other highlights.

The Newhouse Impact podcast is a collaboration of the Newhouse School and WAER 88.3 to showcase research and creative work. A recent episode focused on “The Cycle Project,” a proposed collaboration that former Newhouse student Olivia Kienzle and other students presented in a class taught by Mel White, a professor of practice in the advertising department.

Below is part of the conversation between Kienzle, White and host Katie Zilcosky. To listen to the show, please visit the Newhouse Impact episode page.

Q: What exactly is “The Cycle Project” and what do you hope it accomplishes? 


“The Cycle Project” was born out of one of the prompts that Professor White gave us where we were to look into a problem and solve it using our advertising medium, something for the public good that also brought an element of new technology into it.  

So, my partner, Yuri, and I were thinking about different things that we were passionate about. Yuri recalled a conversation that had come up in one of the classes she was taking, about how a lot of women who are homeless don’t have access to the hygiene supplies that they need. We thought that was interesting and something one doesn’t think about often. So, we kind of dove into that. And we realized, as we were researching, that it was really difficult for homeless people to clean themselves safely and privately. We wanted to bring awareness to this problem, but also show how maybe we can solve it with some new technology out there. 

Q: Mel, why are projects like this important to you as a professor and to your field? 


A project like this is very important because it’s what one may end up doing in the industry once they get a job. When people think of advertising, they tend to think of your typical ad campaign: a commercial, some outdoor advertising, print ads, or maybe something in the digital space. But actually, advertising has changed a lot in the last 10 years.

Yes, we still do “traditional” campaigns. But a lot of companies have now started trying to move the needle in areas related to their products. As creatives, as art directors and copywriters, it’s our job to solve these problems for our brands. 

For this particular project, Olivia and Yuri chose the brands, Dove and North Face. These are two companies who create outstanding products, ones that people find very useful in their lives. But they also want to give back to their communities, to do something good for the world using their products. 

So, Olivia was able to use Dove liquid soap in the packets, and North Face supplied a poncho that would turn into a tent to give homeless people privacy. And all of this would be donated to the people who need it, those who are homeless and female. 

Q: Olivia, can you talk a little bit more about the products from Dove and North Face?


There were actually two problems that we needed to tackle to help women regain their dignity by being able to care for themselves in this way. One of the issues was access to the products they needed. Dove came in here with their soap; and we were able to find some new tech that allowed us to put this soap into packets that also contained sterile water.  

Then North Face came in to help with the second issue. Though we had provided homeless women a way to clean themselves, they were still not in safe environments. We wondered how we could make something that was accessible. That’s how we got onto the idea of it being something wearable that they’re able to bring with them from place to place. We looked into brands that had a good profile for sustainability and that did things like use recycled materials in their clothing. And that’s how we arrived at North Face. 

The choice of these two brand partners did seem a little unconventional at first. But in the long term, they came together to come up with a solution that enabled us to not create more problems. 

Other recent episodes:

The Future of Media Platforms

Guest: Dan Pacheco, Peter A. Horvitz Endowed Chair in Journalism Innovation

Hexes, Curses and Free Speech

Guest: Roy Gutterman, director of Tully Center for Free Speech

Recent accolades, highlights and notes