Marketing students create Mary Kay campaign

By Dan O'Brien
July 07, 2014

Twelve Marketing Communication students recently developed a mock campaign for Mary Kay Cosmetics and scored second place in their district as part of the American Advertising Federation’s (AAF) National Student Advertising Competition.

“It was an incredibly rewarding experience,” said Reed Van Dyck ’14. “We worked so hard and put so much of ourselves into it. We went into the competition as a family.”

Mary Kay group photo

Marketing Communication faculty member Douglas Quintal with his students, Daniel Wong '14, Reed Van Dyck '14, Emily Brownell '14, Cedrine Streit '14, and Katherine Raymond '14, after appearing at a district gathering for the National Student Advertising Competition. (Courtesy Photo) 

Students in Senior Executive-in-Residence Douglas Quintal’s class developed the “#SeeYourself” marketing campaign in about seven months.

“It was based on this idea of owning the mirror,” Quintal said. “Mary Kay projects the image of a strong, powerful, confident woman.”

Emerson won second place in the district that covers New England and eastern New York, and has won first place in the district several times in years past.

About 140 college teams were tasked with creating a $10 million campaign for Mary Kay, the sponsor of this year’s AAF competition. Oftentimes the corporate sponsor will integrate aspects of the winning team’s ideas into its marketing.

The Emerson students filmed several television commercials, including a 60-second spot that begins with a 4-year-old girl playing with makeup in front of a mirror, and ends with a 20-something woman walking away from it.

“It’s a really powerful message,” Quintal said.

“I got that idea around 3 o’clock in the morning, when I was pulling an all-nighter,” Van Dyck said. “You get to the point where you have to come up with executions. I was thinking about my own personal experiences, and as someone who would be the target audience.”

The students identified Mary Kay’s key audience as women ages 18–25, with “Millenial Moms” and “Socially Conscious Millenials” as important consumer groups.

“I was very aspirational when I was younger,” Van Dyck said. “I remembered myself as a girl in elementary school making lists of what I wanted to be when I grew up…There’s a line in our script that asks, ‘When did our goals go from ‘want to’s’ to ‘need to’s’ to ‘supposed to’s?’”

The students also produced print ads with women’s reflections in things such as puddles and bus stops with the hashtag “#SeeYourself.”

Mary Kay poster

The campaign’s guerrilla tactics included the “Compliment Mirror,” which would involve placing a digital mirror that would speak compliments to passersby on the sidewalk in a major city, and #SeeYourself reflective decals. A #SeeYourself college bus tour was another idea.

Van Dyck, a native of Bow, New Hampshire, said she was recently hired by Mullen Advertising in Boston as a creative coordinator, and she credits the skills attained in Quintal’s class for helping her get the job.

“This specific experience absolutely prepared me for this new opportunity,” she said. “I know how to pitch a campaign, and that’s not something everyone can say. I would recommend this experience to anyone at Emerson.”

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