Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A visit to Chicago's Critical Mass ad agency

Critical Mass creative director Dwayne Wheatcroft (centre) and art director Jeremy Hilnak (far right) review Creative Communications' student portfolios.

The Critical Mass videogame room. Guitar Hero anyone?

CreComm students Jason Krahn and Vanessa Kunderman at the Critical Mass nerve centre.

The boardroom table covered in sweet, sweet candy. OK, can I apply for a job now?

Today we visited Critical Mass, one of Chicago's finest and - I'm sure "friendliest" - ad agencies.

Operations manager Ray Madrigal gave us the grand tour, and showered us with an embarrassment of hospitality and riches, including much candy and a Critical Mass water bottle full of Critical Mass paraphernalia. We're not worthy!

What happens in Vegas starts in Chicago

Creative director Dwayne Wheatcroft - originally from Calgary - walked us through his career, and he and art director Jeremy Hilnak took us through a multi-million-dollar campaign they conceived for Las Vegas.

What a campaign:

The Web-based promotion documents small-town Texans enjoying a vacation in Las Vegas. The agency painstakingly selected citizens from Cranfills Gap, Texas, then sent them on a free a Vegas vacation; they captured their experiences in web videos. An elaborate website ties it all together.

Sample campaign video:

You can see all of the videos on YouTube here.

Truth be told, I feel a little bit like the Texans who went to Vegas: I'm happy to have met the people at Critical Mass Chicago, overwhelmed by their hospitality and generosity, and I'm a better person for having had the experience.

Thanks, Critical Mass Chicago for a great afternoon.

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