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Images shown here are of students involved in the ad creation project. Photos were taken on location by
Jeremy Derbyshire.

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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

Media Contact: Jan Wenzel, 401-874-2116

URI students help create national TV ad

Alumnus funds project for his dental referral business

KINGSTON, R.I. -- March 21, 2003 -- Thanks to a generous alumnus, some University of Rhode Island students were given a project that they could really sink their teeth into.

The students helped create a national television advertising campaign for the dental referral company, 1-800-DENTIST™. Their concept and ideas for two 30-second ads will be shown nationally within the next six months.

The Los Angeles-based referral company is owned by Fred Joyal (pictured at right in image below) who grew up in West Warwick and graduated from URI in 1979 with a degree in French.

The idea to give students real-life experiences came out of discussions last spring when Joyal came to see URI’s annual film festival, Visualizations, which he has sponsored since 1998. The festival awards cash to URI students who have produced short films, including commercials.

"I wanted to do something to give students real life experience," said the alumnus who has an extensive advertising background. By funding a commercial production class, Joyal said he was giving students a chance to see their ideas develop into an actual product, something not regularly done in academia. "The class was also another way for me to give back to my alma mater," he added.

The students in the communication studies class were taught by marketing and advertising veteran Ken D’Ambrosio of Cote and D’Ambrosio. Prior to moving to Wickford, R.I., he worked on numerous advertising campaigns on Madison Avenue, garnering more than 25 Cleo, Andy, and Hatch Awards from the advertising industry.

The class soon began discussing storyboards, motivators, concepts, target audiences, account executives, brand identity, focus groups, and test marketing. Ideas and concepts flowed freely.

Eventually the class focused on "trust." 1-800-DENTIST™ prescreens the dentists it refers, therefore the service is trustworthy. Students applied the trust theme to other settings so that consumers could identify with situations such as"Don’t you wish someone would conduct a background check on your boyfriend or your babysitter?"

Joyal liked the concept. In January eight students from the class—Joe Simonetti from Rockland County, N.Y., Jeremy Derbyshire of Narragansett, Mark Weinzierl of West Warwick, Chris Denslow of West Kingston; Leslie Fox from Katonah, N.Y., and Ryan Marchione of New Milford, Conn., flew to Los Angeles. The group worked 12 days straight, including five days of shooting, and both pre- and post-production, working both on a sound stage and on location. They were involved in shooting eight commercials, two of which were their concepts. The trip was funded by URI’s College of Arts and Sciences Hope & Heritage Fund and the Department of Communication Studies.

Days began at 6 a.m. and ended around 10 p.m. "I didn’t see the sun for three days," joked Simonetti, a senior with a passion for film editing.

For the past four years, he has edited URI-TV shows and some work of fellow communications studies students. "I’ve been doing it just for fun," he said, noting proudly that he has won two awards in URI’s film festival.

Simonetti got plenty of practice as the on-set editor. Since the cameras were fed right into his laptop computer, Simonetti was able to capture what the camera was recording. The URI student could rapidly create a rough edit that the director could quickly look at and make any adjustment.

"This was the best experience I got from URI," the senior said. "I learned more in those five days of shooting and editing than I did in any class. The best thing is that I discovered that my favorite pastime can become my career."

Joyal seemed pleased with the process and would encourage other alumni to consider funding a class for their company. The alumnus is not only considering funding another class, but teaching it himself from Los Angeles by video conferencing. "I could easily browbeat students from 3,000 miles away," the jovial alumnus said.

For More Information: Lisa Fleetwood, 800-222-5882

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