Students make video for Ford competition

GVL / GV Student Ford PR Video
David Milarch

GVL / GV Student Ford PR Video David Milarch

Allison Ribick

Too often, inspiring stories go unheard and unnoticed. Ford Motor Company is looking to change that as they highlight the accomplishments of inspiring individuals through their video series, “Go Further.”

One aspect of the series is a campaign involving a competition between Grand Valley State University, Compass College and Calvin College. Whichever college creates a video that spotlights an inspiring story of an individual and gets the most unique views on YouTube wins.

GVSU’s documentary was created by a team of students including Atikh Bana, Chad Rodgers, Olga Sarayeva, Joseph Buckenmeyer, Ian Kast, Lindsey VanDenBoom and Richard Iseppi, as well as their adviser, GVSU advertising and public relations professor Frank Blossom. The GVSU Ford Team, as they are called, combined their skills and perspectives as varying majors, such as advertising and public relations and film and video.

“Our job was to go out and find inspiring stories of individuals,” said VanDenBoom, GVSU communications student and producer of the video. “It was a great learning experience for all students. We all worked together and had different qualities that really brought the whole thing together.”

Every person tapped into their strengths in order to create a polished, professional video. The advertising agency Team Detroit even told the GVSU students that their video is of the quality of other well-known commercials.

“By them creating this program to involve students engaged with the process, it’s Ford’s way of going further and building a stronger community of people who might be inspired by this themselves to go out and do something inspirational and go further,” said Joseph Buckenmeyer, a soon-to-be GVSU graduate with a major in advertising and public relations. 

The GVSU Ford Team’s video documentary focuses on David Milarch, co-founder of Archangel Ancient Tree Archive, which aims to preserve the genetics of the largest and oldest champion trees by cloning them. Milarch had to overcome many financial and personal obstacles in order to achieve the success he has had. Milarch has even gone international with his research, as he has plans to travel to the United Kingdom.

“I think (our video) is really unique because Ford is really big on sustainability and creating eco-friendly products,” VanDenBoom said. “We paired up really well with Ford in that sense.”

The sustainability aspect also ties in with GVSU’s many green initiatives since the university has been repeatedly named one of the greenest colleges in the state and country.

“David Milarch is such an inspiration to people of our age, to show that he’s older than us, has no education, no financial background, but he’s able to do his passion and his dream,” VanDenBoom said. “For us, we have an education; we have so many resources at our fingertips that we have that leverage to go above and beyond anything than what David Milarch had.”

Ford supplied the students with a budget and partnered them up with a local car dealership so they could use a Ford brand car for working on the video documentary. Since Milarch lives in Copemish, Mich., the students had to do some traveling.

Their video documentary is aimed at connecting with graduating college students.

“This is a project for college kids, by college kids,” Buckenmeyer said. “The target market for it is students who are graduating, who are going out into the world and are going to be buying cars. 

“The idea behind (the campaign) is to build a brand to something that is supporting these crazy stories of people doing great things. They want the name Ford to resonate with people.”

If the GVSU Ford Team wins the competition by having the most unique YouTube views, not only will they earn a cash prize, but also the chance for their story to be in a commercial for Ford.

The fact that GVSU has such a large student and alumni population helps in the advertising of the video, Buckenmeyer said.

This year is the pilot test for the campaign, and Ford only included some colleges in West Michigan. If the campaign is successful, it will potentially turn into a national competition.

“If you want to get involved, network with advertising and public relations people and let people know that you’re looking for opportunities like this,” Buckenmeyer said.

The campaign started on Nov. 17 and ends on Dec. 8. To help the GVSU Ford Team win the competition and support their video documentary, watch the video and share it with others. The video is called “Big Trees GVSU” and can be found on the YouTube Channel, College Go Further.

“What David Milarch and his sons are doing is absolutely incredible,” Buckenmeyer said. “It is just truly inspiring, and it shows, even if you have nothing, you can do anything.”

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