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Brand & Business: D&AD Shift with Google in New York: night school program of 2021 culminates in a showcase of creative responses to briefs by adidas, Spotify and DIAGEO

NEW YORK, USA — D&AD Shift with Google in New York celebrated the conclusion of its 2021 program with a showcase on Friday, Mar. 4 at the Caelum Gallery. The four month night school culminated in an in-person gathering where the class of 21 self-made creatives presented their portfolios as well as responses to real client briefs set by adidas, Spotify, and DIAGEO. The event also represents a unique chance for ‘Shifters’ who are now seeking employment opportunities to build important industry connections through networking sessions.

The Shift New York class of 2021 are Anthony Ricardo La Touche, Bradley Valentin, Cindy Rodriguez, Dayshané Nickele Adorno, DeAndre Spencer, Desmond Allen, Devante Washington, Erinn Budd, Grace Mc Nally, Janay Gross, Jazzmine Bustamante, Jessyca Clement, Jorrell Peels, Kristina Erskine, Leigh Schuyler Brant, Leqwan Bumford, Mazharul Talukdar, Natasha Padilla, Nyaira Gibbs, Paul Welch, and Zane Durham. As a testament to their passion for all things creativity, some of the students had previously worked in a variety of creative-led roles, including DJ, event curator, photographer, videographer.

Anthony Ricardo La Touche, Shifter class of 2021, commented: “One thing that I will take from the night school for life is that my experience and perspective matter. My approach to briefs is unique. I see potential in things others can’t see. Shift has reinstilled in me this feeling that, no matter what your skills are as a creative, if you learn how they apply in the professional world, they’ll suddenly become valuable.”

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D&AD Shift with Google has challenged the assumption that talent can only be found within a small number of colleges by nurturing emerging creatives from all backgrounds. Taking place in London, New York and Sydney, the program consists of industry set briefs, talks and mentorship, and provides a supportive and educational space for creative talent without an academic degree to hone their skills, build a network and develop their portfolios.

Now in its sixth year, the program continues to work towards a better equipped and culturally nuanced creative sector that is both reflective and relevant to a changing creative landscape, offering industry professionals access to an exceptional pool of diverse talent outside of the college system. In 2021, over 18 agencies, 30+ industry instructors and 21 mentors participated and contributed to the program. As a result, 67% of the graduates from the Shift program went on to secure placements and jobs at leading creative companies such as Droga5, The Mill, McCann and Design Bridge.

As a final exercise, the 2021 cohort had to develop creative responses to four industry-set briefs. adidas tasked the class with a campaign to connect the brand’s digital and social media presence to its retail stores, positioning local communities at the center. Spotify focused on launching audiobooks on the platform whilst authentically connecting with Gen Z. DIAGEO briefed the cohort with two tasks: the first, to raise awareness and cultural relevance of Seedlip within a diverse group of consumers. The second, to make Smirnoff 21 culturally relevant for legal drinking age “Influential Voices“. All four activities are inspired by real client briefs, giving the work the relevancy it needs to stand out to employers.

Amongst the solutions presented by students, one particularly stood out. In response to the brief set by adidas, Leigh Schuyler passionately landed the idea that gardening is a sport and that the sports brand could – and should – activate around the burgeoning community gardens in New York. The innovative thinking behind her concept granted her the winner title against other groups.

The Showcase, attended by industry professionals from leading New York creative agencies, offered the Shifters the opportunity to celebrate the completion of the demanding program, as well as build a valuable network, show off their portfolios and seek employment opportunities.

Kwame Taylor Hayford, Resident ECD for Shift NYC 2021, D&AD Trustee: “Creativity thrives from diverse minds and perspectives, and Shift excels in inspiring, establishing and developing talented individuals from outside the traditional education system. The continued support of partners such as Google as well as brief setters adidas, Spotify and DIAGEO have allowed the programme to expand, connecting a growing wave of self-made creative talent. It gives them a chance to have their work seen by leading creative professionals, enabling them to gain access to and build key relationships with industry leaders.”

Saskia Owens, Strategy and Special Projects at Google, commented: We’re constantly inspired by the innovative projects we come across during Shift, and are very proud to continue to support the night school. It is a vital program that cultivates already brimming talent, builds creative community in cities like New York, and provides value not just to the Shifters but to the industry and the world.

Ayesha Martin, Director, Global Purpose at adidas, commented, “It is part of our mission at adidas to look at and support initiatives that create a lasting impact on our industry. Shift provides amazing opportunities and, consequently, great impact. It is a community-first program that nurtures creatives from all backgrounds. Our team is excited to be part of this fantastic journey.”

Ash Level, Shift New York Producer and Shift 2018 Alumni, commented, “D&AD Shift naturally provides a supportive, purposeful, and empowering environment. These qualities have transformed the program into a community incubator of raw talent. Not only are brilliant ideas nurtured in this space, but collaboration and an elite network are at the core.”

To find out more about this year’s participants and see their work please visit the D&AD website. Further details of the 2022 D&AD Shift with Google in London program will be announced shortly.

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