Rocky the Red Hawk will be making his debut in Times Square this month as the star of an entirely student-produced ad.
The 30-second clip chosen as the winner of the Feliciano Times Square Challenge will be aired on the largest digital surface LED screen in New York City, and will be Montclair State’s first ad campaign in Times Square.
Back in 2015, the benefactors of the Feliciano School of Business bid on Times Square ad space at a benefactor dinner. When they presented it as a gift to the school of business, Dean Gregory Cant created a student competition for the best ad.
Over a dozen teams entered the contest, which presented students with this challenge: design and produce a 30-second ad highlighting the business school’s proximity to New York City and its role as the hub of innovation for the campus. The teams had to be comprised of at least one business student and one student from a different department, thus fostering an interdisciplinary project.
“If you’ve ever heard the expression, ‘Everybody becomes an ad executive during the super bowl,’ that’s kind of how our early meetings went,” said Dan Fedkenheuer, a junior business major with a concentration in marketing.
Fedkenheuer, who is vice president of the American Marketing Association at Montclair State, was a member of the winning team. He illustrated the original storyboards which eventually developed into the winning ad.
“I think about how I was Photoshopping it in my bedroom… It was nothing at some point and now it’s this big production,” he explained.
The 30-second commercial is a “zero to hero” story, according to Fedkenheuer. It begins with an adolescent Rocky who encounters failure after failure—from being unable to blow out all of his birthday candles to attending prom dateless to messing up his driver’s test. But the story takes a turn for the better when he opens an acceptance letter from Montclair State University. The remainder of the video shows Rocky succeeding in the classroom and going on to be the owner of his own start-up company.
“It’s very edgy and doesn’t look like the other bright advertising down there,” Cant said of the winning ad. “People don’t know Rocky outside of here, but a person wouldn’t be as impactful as a giant bird.”
After Fedkenheuer and his fellow business major teammates—Sana Ajaj, Erin Blake, Mike Lutes and Jake Ruggerio—nailed down the storyboard, they handed it over to Chris Guiseppini, a film student and the sixth member of their team. This past summer, Guiseppini led a student film crew who shot the commercial.
The ad goes live in Times Square the week of March 27, and the team is already eager to visit and take pictures in front of the fruit of their year-and-a-half-long labor. On Thursday, March 30, the team of student producers will host a panel discussion about their winning project.