Students win Ford video contest, producing national ad

Photo courtesy: GVSU Ford Team
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Photo courtesy: GVSU Ford Team
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Students from Grand Valley State University’s School of Communications have earned the opportunity to continue working with Ford Motor Company in Detroit to produce a national advertisement.

During a December 12 ceremony, the team of students was awarded the opportunity to expand their video project with Ford’s advertising agency, Team Detroit, and a monetary prize.

The competition between Grand Valley, Calvin College and Compass College for Cinematic Arts challenged students to develop and produce online videos showcasing inspirational stories about people or organizations in Michigan.

The total number of unique video views on YouTube determined the winner. Grand Valley’s video, “Big Trees,” received 5,012 views at the final tally.

The video highlights Archangel Ancient Tree Archive founded by David Milarch.

“It’s an organization dedicated to cloning the world’s largest and most iconic trees in order to replace the natural filter system of our water and air to fight global warming caused by climate change,” said Lindsey VanDenBoom, advertising and public relations major at Grand Valley. “Today, AATA has established living archives containing hundreds of vital trees in Michigan.”

Ian Kast, the project’s director of photography, recently traveled to California with Team Detroit and Milarch to collect footage of monumental Redwood trees, which will be added to the original video.

“The trip was the most breathtaking, amazing, eye opening trip I have ever taken,” Kast said. “David showed us his home away from home in the redwoods and made it clear to us the importance of the message of his company. Team Detroit showed me a very professional workflow. I was able to lead the crew on what and where to shoot, but I was also given direction.”

The entire Grand Valley team of seven students will join Team Detroit in late January to complete final edits. The revised video is scheduled to launch nationwide in early February.

Kast said working with his fellow students has created an amazing learning experience that transcends the classroom.

“The other students that I have been working with are top notch and definitely made it feel like this was a full on professional production and not a school project,” Kast said. “Working with Ford has been a great experience. They don’t treat us like we are students. It really gave me an idea of what the professional world has in store for me.”

Frank Blossom, affiliate professor of advertising and public relations and advisor for Grand Valley’s Ford team, said that this video project might have a lasting affect on the university.

“One unintended consequence of this experience has been the opportunity to connect David Milarch and his reforesting ancient, champion tress with GVSU sustainability, STARS®, Tree Campus USA, the GVSU Master Plan and the GVSU arborist program,” Blossom said. “We may have monumental trees adding to our Laker legacy soon.”

To watch Grand Valley’s original contest entry, visit

For more information, contact Frank Blossom at