Two of Conestoga's Graphic Design & Advertising graduates have recently received high awards at international competitions in advertising. Michelle Fortin, graduate of 2003, was awarded a First Place at the International Newspaper Marketing Awards (IMNA) for her work on a Kitchener Record campaign entitled "News For All of You” and Ron Smrczek, a graduate of 1996, won a Lion at the 2005 Cannes International Advertising Festival in France , for two separate advertising campaigns he was involved with.
How does it feel to win such high honours at an international event? Michelle says that "it is always great to be recognized for the work I do. It reinforces that I am in the right career and doing well at it”. Since there was no notification of a win possibility, Michelle did not accompany her director to the 71st INMA Newspaper Marketing Awards held in Chicago . Therefore, "it was a great surprise to find out … we had won!”. She wasn't just a part of a first place winning campaign but a 2 nd place one in another category for a different campaign as well.
Michelle, who was also deemed Best New Artist last year at the ICON marketing awards, was able to secure her job as a Graphic Designer, 3 days after finishing her diploma at Conestoga. She was hired in the Marketing Department at Grand River Valley Newspapers (more commonly identified as The Kitchener Record and Guelph Mercury) and has been there ever since. "Conestoga was a great place to start. [It] was my top choice for post-secondary education coming out of high school because of the reputation the course had”.
Ron chose Conestoga more for its small teacher/student ratio but accredits some of his success to his former Graphic Design instructor, Matt Miller. "[He] introduced me to advertising at the end of second year and I was drawn right to it. His passion for the business helped me gain the fundamentals I needed to get my foot in the door”.
Ron has been the Senior Art Director at Taxi Advertising and Design of Toronto for 3 years and has earned several awards for various campaigns. The 2 Lion awards he picked up from Cannes were the most prestigious to date. You may recognize his winning television campaign for Viagra entitled the "bleep” campaign. As Ron describes it, "each spot features men in everyday conversations who are just about to boast of the previous evening's fun and games when their mouths are ‘censored' by the little blue (Viagra) pill”. This campaign was the only one to win a Gold Lion in the film (television) category in Canada and, therefore, has received much local press. Globally, it is being heralded as one of the top international campaigns for the year.
His second winning campaign at Cannes was an outdoor one for Nike in which two large murals were placed on adjacent buildings to give the illusion of a runner breaking through the first building.
Like Michelle, Ron was unable to accept his award in person. He was, however, able to "capture the moment” on his colleague's video phone. "It took me a while to really accept [the win]. In the advertising community it is considered a huge accomplishment”.
Having achieved international recognition for their work, Michelle and Ron have not only enhanced their credibility in the advertising realm, but have been honoured for their excellence in their chosen career field. Future plans for these high-achievers? Michelle hopes to continue to grow and outdo herself each year and perhaps move into designing commercials. Ron, on the other hand, is traveling to Southeast Asia for a few months and then is "looking to make a move outside of Canada to gain international experience and work on some larger pieces of business”.
View Ron's winning work.
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