Intersectionality Meets Creativity at the 3 Percent Awards

As many students who study advertising at the College of Communication know, submitting one’s campaign to a competition can be nerve-wracking, exciting, and–sometimes–incredibly satisfying. The latter was certainly true for Yonglin Huang and Nitchamon Chinavong, two creatives who won a spot at The 3 Percent Awards this past fall.

The first of the pair’s three print executions, which focused on the idea that the best work arises from diversity.

Yonglin Huang and Nitchamon Chinavong, first-year COM graduate students, won a trip to New York to attend the 3 Percent Conference for their work, “Diversity in Position,” in October 2017. The conference gives students and advertising professionals an opportunity to discuss the need for diversity in their rapidly changing field.

What drew you to Professor Ryan’s Fundamentals of Creative class?

Chinavong: Well, we are in different classes. I heard about the competition through her (Huang).

Huang: Yeah, I’m in the Fundamentals of Creative class with Professor Ryan. I asked her (Chinavong) to join me for the competition.

Oh, great! So what made you want to participate in the 3 Percent Award competition?

Huang: Well because it’s my first year, I’m trying to do new things and develop my abilities. I’m just trying to see what I can do. It sounded like a really good opportunity, and the chance to go to the conference in New York was attractive to us.

Oh great, okay. So what was the creative process like for you guys?

Huang: Well in the Fundamentals class, we learned how to lay down ideas. So we started writing a brief.

Chinavong: Yeah, so when we wrote the brief, we had these ideas and we saw that we’d have to come up with something that seemed like it came from a real advertising agency. We wanted to bring the diversity part to the front. We came up with many ideas before deciding, and we brought the best ones to Professor Ryan.

Huang: Yeah, and she helped us find the real one. She checked it out.

Chinavong: We really liked this idea about the positions in the advertising agency. This aspect came up many times. We wrote down all the positions, and we tried to think what we could do. We carefully considered what would work for this project.

And what did you go with?

Huang: We used strategist, copywriter, and art director.

Awesome. So how did you divide responsibilities?

Chinavong: We actually helped each other for all of it, the whole thing was done together. She (Huang) was the one that came up with the idea to add race and religion.

Huang: Oh no, we did that together. I just chose the colors for the posters and where to put the headlines. We even came up with the headlines together.

Chinavong: Yeah, we do a good job together.

Oh, that’s so nice. So around what time did you submit this?

Chinavong: We actually submitted it the day before the deadline.

Huang: From when we decided to do this to when we submitted it, it was a pretty rushed time. At first I did not think I wanted do this because all of the materials were due around midterms, which is a bad time for us. But they actually added an extension and pushed back the deadline, so I decided to ask Nitchamon to try it with me.

Wow, I couldn’t tell you were rushing from your work! So how is the meaning of the 3 Percent Awards significant to you?

Chinavong: When I first heard about it, I was surprised. I had no idea. At the conference, we learned about the big gap, and we talked about how it is not just about gender—it’s beyond that. It’s about getting diversity in the office and addressing those who are disadvantaged. The 3 Percent Conference made this issue stand out. They also said that now, the number is different.

Huang: Yeah, the 3 Percent stood for the percentage of women in creative director positions, but the number has raised this year. I think it’s like twenty-something? It is higher this year, but there is still a way to go.

That must have made this project even more important to you. What was attending the conference like?

Chinavong: It was a two-day conference. On the first day, you choose what track you want to follow during your time there. We both chose the emerging creative track. It was cool because we talked to other creative people about how they came up with their ideas, and how they made their work. They also shared a lot about their work experience.

Huang: We also made some new friends there. There were other winners, some from BU—but also some from LA and Texas.

Oh, awesome! So going forward, what did you learn from this process?

Huang: It actually made me think about my future career. Before I went to the conference, I thought that I wanted to study strategy or media planning. But now I have found my interest in the creative track, because it’s so different.

Terrific, and you?

Chinavong: In meeting so many creative people, I’ve noticed that they all have such a passion for this job. Before going to this conference, I didn’t think I could do it. I didn’t think creative was for me. But now I know that this is something I like, and something I can do well if I’m inspired.


Dera Silvestre, Staff Writer 

Dera Silvestre is a junior in the College of Communication studying mass communication with a minor in Spanish. On campus, she is involved in WTBU Radio and the Student Philanthropy Center. Dera is interested in legal advocacy and activism, and she hopes to earn a degree in law after finishing her undergrad. She is from Rhode Island.

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