14 Interns, 2 Campaigns, 1 Critical Challenge

At MRY, I’ve had the great pleasure of working with some inspiring classes of interns, and the summer intern class of 2015 was no exception. For the big team project this year, we gave them an especially daunting brief: come up with a campaign to support college students grappling with mental health issues. Oh yeah, and they’d have little time to do it, next to no budget, and they’d be working with people they just met.

As for the scale of the problem, a survey from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) showed that among people who stopped attending college, 64% cited mental illness as a reason for dropping out.

What the interns (with the assistance of a great, deep bench of mentors across the agency) was inspiring. I would have been surprised if any team pulled off anything remotely successful. It turns out that both teams not only put together impressive campaigns, but they each attracted hundreds of posts practically overnight from people around the world supporting their work. Perhaps in time they’ll have even started a movement.

Here’s a quick recap of what each team did, and this post won’t do justice to either, so spend some time checking out their links, videos, social feeds, and more.

One team crafted a funny brand, Don’t Be a Dick, as a way to sardonically shame people who are all too dismissive or ignorant about their friends’ serious mental issues. The videos they created, especially the best of the lot, are both funny and biting, and the personas they brought to life feel all too real. Check out one of the videos below, featuring team member Courtney Ratner.  Beyond YouTube and their site, you can see their work on Instagram and Twitter.

The other team, The How Are You Project, took a more serious approach. The centerpiece is a ten-hour video of team member Trevor Hains in a coffee shop who is just waiting to find out how you’re really feeling. There’s something so salient about how the team sought to make people pay attention when asking such a commonplace question. You can also find them on Twitter. And no, I’m not just embedding their video below to try to get you to spend ten hours on this blog.

Kudos to the class of interns: Marisol Pelaez, Trevor Hains, Carly Harris, Georgina Morgan, Nancy Nystrom, Leah Greene, Cody Allen, Jason Hill, Aye Chan Moe, Richard Balagtas, Morgan Klovens, Peter Maturo, Courtney Ratner, and Charles Crain. I hope to have the pleasure of collaborating with all of them again, given how much I learned from working with them. To all of you #MRYinterns, thanks for your countless contributions to the agency this summer.

[Update: MediaPost covered the internship program. Thanks again, intern crew, for the work you did here. It’s exciting to report we already hired two of them from this class, and we may well get to bring on others as they graduate in the years ahead.]