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SVA Students Win Cannes Future Lions Awards with Ideas for Google and CNN

The BFA Advertising department continued its streak of student honorees and industry acclaim as recent graduates Yeon Sang Yoon and Jin Sug Park (both class of 2017) and rising seniors Min Young Park, Jisoo Hong and Ji Hoon Kim received the prestigious Future Lions prize, the official student award of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, recently held in France. The two groups were among the five teams selected from thousands of international participants who were asked to advertise a product that connects audiences to an idea from a global brand in a way not possible three years ago; this year's theme called for work that went "beyond what's expected to create the future."

A more informed future, with interactive access to information, was envisioned by both teams. [Minyoung] Park, Hong and Kim created Google Assistant Kids, a version of the voice-activated virtual personal assistant predicated on the realization that while inquisitive children can now easily search for answers to their questions—”Why is the sky blue?”—the queried results are likely presented in a manner too complicated for them to understand.

Detecting the user’s age by analyzing their pitch and pronunciation, Google Assistant Kids simplifies the answers and verbally responds; it can be used on phones running Google's app or on Google Home devices.The concept was produced under the creative direction of faculty members Jack Mariucci and Bob Mackall.

Yoon and [Jin] Park were recognized for a proposed digital platform for CNN that enables voter education via video chat, a project that was initiated in this spring’s Pop Thinking course, helmed by Sungkwon Ha (BFA 2009 Advertising) and Jungho Michael Oh (BFA 2010 Advertising). Ha and Oh won at the Future Lions in 2009.

Ask the Candidates is a platform intented to allow voters to interact via the web with artificial intelligence bots—similar to Alexa or Siri but built on aggregated, fact-checked media clips, public statements and voting records—as if having a one-on-one with chosen candidates. "People can easily get as much information if they want to, but there are too many click-baiting news [outlets], and fake news, so that makes it difficult for people to know their candidates," Yeon said of their approach. "The best way to know about candidates is chatting with them, but we all know that is impossible."

“That actual piece set up a great model,” said Ha of Ask the Candidates, suggesting that this type of product vis-à-vis the role of self-education among media consumers is the future of data curation. The ethos and assignments of Pop Thinking, which launched in fall 2016, are very much aligned with the spirit of the Future Lions, Ha and Oh noted. The brief that sparked Yoon and Park's spot asked students to come up with ideas to get people to vote, and pressed them to consider the ways social media informs the public about issues and candidates, or doesn't. It also prodded the designers with questions like, "What stops people from voting in the first place?" and "How can people hold each other accountable to vote?"

"We always try to think about what is at the core of the issue we're trying to solve when we give a brief," said Oh. "We're constantly trying to train our students to think of themselves outside of just a creative in advertising."

“It was awesome that all kinds of creatives gathered together in the ceremony,” Yoon said of celebrating and being celebrated in Cannes with classmates and new colleagues. “Future Lions is the most honored award show in the world. Students who study for advertising and creativity always dream of winning it.”

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