Ford team debuts final advertisement

GVL / Courtesy
GVSU Ford Team

GVL / Courtesy GVSU Ford Team

Allison Ribick

A group of seven Grand Valley State University students created a video for a competition with Compass College and Calvin College that was part of Ford Motor Company’s “Go Further” campaign, which aimed to share the inspirational stories of individuals and organizations in Michigan.

The GVSU Ford team produced the winning video that ultimately turned into a national advertisement after working with Ford’s advertising agency Team Detroit and David Milarch to collect and edit additional footage. The final advertisement debuted on YouTube on March 9.

Milarch, co-founder of Archangel Ancient Tree Archive – which works to clone the largest and oldest champion trees in order to preserve their genetics – was the focus of the video.

Atikh Bana, Chad Rodgers, Lindsey VanDenBoom, Joseph Buckenmeyer, Ian Kast, Olga Sarayeva and Richard Iseppi were the members of the GVSU Ford team who brought their varying skills and knowledge to create the professional video.

“As you listen to and interact with your subject, learn about their lives, you are just amazed,” said Bana, a senior majoring in advertising and public relations. “Amazed at how awesome people can be. And, through the skills we’ve gained, we’ve become capable of sharing great stories like this. You find purpose and fulfillment – which makes you feel great.”

One of the things Bana learned from the experience was that when acts become selfless, they can benefit all.

Bana commended the efforts of Ford, Team Detroit and Frank Blossom, the GVSU advertising and public relations professor, for creating an inspiring visual story.

“The whole process wasn’t rooted in self-gain,” Bana said. “We all just wanted to play our part in doing something good. I think that this must apply to all of the things I do. Everything must be rooted in something greater than myself.”

The GVSU Ford team won the competition in December – thus earning them a cash prize and the chance to produce a national advertisement with Team Detroit.

“The biggest takeaway for me was in the realization that great collaboration doesn’t come in merely complementing skill sets, but rather through an understanding of how one can be more valuable for a greater goal,” Bana said.

Throughout the months of the competition, the GVSU Ford team not only had to shoot, edit and produce the video, but they also had to create a social media strategy to have the most unique views on YouTube in order to win the competition.

For VanDenBoom, a senior advertising and public relations major, she learned to overcome challenges, collaborate with others and gain experience from her GVSU courses.

“It was a neat process to watch a small idea flourish into a national campaign for Ford,” VanDenBoom said. “I not only learned a lot about the video editing process, but also about the light David Milarch’s story can shed on so many individuals.”

Both Bana and VanDenBoom hoped their video will help in David Milarch’s efforts of creating greater awareness for environmental preservation to reduce global warming.

“Even in the past few months, David has already seen lots of growth for his team and organization,” VanDenBoom said. “They have educated and informed individuals on a global scale and will continue to dedicate their life to the future our planet.”

For both Bana and VanDenBoom, this experience has impacted their professional and future careers.

For Bana personally, he thinks he will have the opportunity to tell more stories in the future, and having had this experience will help him with that.

“It’s all about real life, hands-on experience,” Bana said. “Find opportunities. If not, create them. My junior year, I created a video to spread happiness in Grand Rapids called Happy Grand Rapids. Find messages you want to spread, do things you love doing and share it. Seriously, great things will happen.”

VanDenBoom noted that this experience is a great project to add to her portfolio and shows her strengths, since her skills were put to the test.

“Exploring neighboring organizations and working with other individuals grows an individual in so many ways,” VanDenBoom said. “I encourage anyone to get involved in external competitions, clubs and organizations to further their education far beyond anything the books can offer.”

To see the final video, visit

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