MSU Advertising alum holds a sweet and savory position with Frito-Lay

Posted on: November 28, 2016

Chris Kuechenmeister graduated from the MSU College of Communication Arts and Sciences in 1995 with a bachelor’s in advertising and a specialization in public relations. After spending his early career in agencies working with clients on corporate reputation and brand building projects, Kuechenmeister found his place with Frito-Lay, a sector of PepsiCo. Stationed in Dallas, he has been with Frito-Lay for 8 years, serving as the vice president of communications for the last two and a half years.

Before his current position, Kuechenmeister worked in Detroit in agencies that served the auto industry. He spent a few years in North and South Carolina agencies, as well as in a corporate communications role with Michelin. His last stop before Dallas was Los Angeles, where he spent six years working on the agency side of the industry.

“I feel the diversity of roles, responsibilities and work settings I’ve had helped prepare me for my current role,” said Kuechenmeister. “Having a multi-disciplined background provides a helpful foundation for the various twists and turns this career brings.”

Kuechenmeister says he has always been very open to new opportunities – a mindset that has helped advance his career. He says he aims to grow with each challenge.kuechenmeister-1

“When there are bumps in the road–which always come–I do my best to learn from each situation and apply it to my future,” said Kuechenmeister.

As the VP of Communications for Frito-Lay North America, he leads a team that manages all internal and external communications for the company, including external media relations for 30-plus brands, internal communications with 55,000 associates, community relations and more.

His fast-paced job also includes day-to-day tasks that vary from managing new product launches to generating media coverage.

“The variety keeps things interesting and I wouldn’t have it any other way,” said Kuechenmeister.

Since PepsiCo is a globally recognized organization, Kuechenmeister says, “the possibilities from a communications standpoint are endless.”

He works his hardest to remain thoughtful and structured while immersed in a leadership position that continually presents unforgettable opportunities.

Kuechenmeister says he has had many memorable experiences, but the best are those when he and his team can have a positive impact on the lives of consumers. One of these memorable experiences was during the Tostitos sponsored Fiesta Bowl.

“The brand‘s positioning was all around bringing people together to share memorable experiences, and we created a surprise reunion for some members of the military stationed in Iraq with their families back in the states,” said Kuechenmeister. “These families had been apart for several months and being involved with them reuniting was pretty special.”

Kuechenmeister continues to be inspired by his organization and all the people in it. And as a consumer, Kuechenmeister says his favorite Frito-Lay product is Wasabi Ginger Lay’s Kettle Cooked Potato Chips.

“The people at Frito-Lay and PepsiCo are committed to doing the best work they can - providing great products for our consumers and supporting our fellow associates all along the way,” he said. “It creates a high-performance atmosphere and the feeling that you can achieve your true potential.”

By Lily Clark

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Advertising Alumna Recognized for a Life of Giving Back

Posted on: January 25, 2016

Carrie Hummel Woman of the Year

Carrie Hummel is more accustomed to hearing other people's stories than telling her own.

So when Hummel was asked to talk about being named the California State Assembly's "Woman of the Year" for the central Orange County district, she didn't know where to begin.

"It was such a shock to me," said Hummel of the 2015 honor. "There were so many high profile people being recognized, and then there was me. It was so humbling. I still have no idea why I was picked."

Despite her modesty, the alumna of MSU’s College of Communication Arts and Sciences is more than deserving of an honor that acknowledges her nearly 30 years of volunteer service in California's 68th district. Hummel's volunteering isn't exclusive to ages or to socioeconomic groups, spanning arts to kids to seniors to the homeless. She's tireless and persistent, motivated by what she says is a desire to make the world a better place

"We're here on this earth for such a short time," Hummel said. "I just want to spend my time helping others. I want to make a mark on the world, no matter how small that might be."

Starting Out

Hummel grew up in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. Her father was an educator and was the Associate Dean of Students at Central Michigan University for 26 years. Her mother, too, was a teacher and worked as a reading specialist in a neighboring school district.

Carrie Hummel"There was no question that I was going to college," Hummel said. "Learning and that thirst for knowledge was just a way of life for me."

Hummel attended Albion College when she finished high school and earned her bachelor's in Music Education. But when she graduated, job prospects were slim for music teachers, so she decided to change course and enter the master's program in Advertising at MSU.

"Going to MSU was extremely eye-opening for me," Hummel said. "I had led a pretty sheltered life up until then, but MSU was such a melting pot, filled with people from all over the world. It was an experience that really prepared me for life."

While she met a lot of new people, Hummel also reconnected with those she knew from Mt. Pleasant, including her soon-to-be-husband Phil. The two began dating and got engaged. When she graduated in 1982 and accepted a sales job in California, Phil moved, too, and started studying law.

Hummel worked in sales and advertising for Olin Corporation for a decade before she opted to dedicate her life to volunteerism and raising three boys. Many times, she took her kids along, exposing them to the rewards of being involved and helping others.

"That was so important to me, to teach my kids," Hummel said. "Part of volunteering is wanting it to continue by showing others the value of giving back."

Being There

Carrie Hummel volunteeringToday, Hummel participates in multiple civic and community activities in the Orange and Villa Park communities, including volunteer and leadership posts through YMCA, schools, women's clubs, churches, homeless shelters and senior centers. In between, she works in her husband's law office, attending to promotions, marketing and administrative functions.

Ever passionate about the arts, Hummel has led the charge in developing arts programming for kids and for community festivals. She's also highly immersed in the business community, serving as an ambassador, committee member, or on the board of the local chamber of commerce.

"Volunteering is so fun and I've been fortunate enough to be able to do it at this level," Hummel said. "I always say, you only get from life what you put into it. Compassion, empathy, caring and love are the most important things in this world."

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Alumni-Founded Company Gives Pure Michigan Campaign a Boost

Posted on: November 5, 2015

Clicktivated main

The Pure Michigan advertising campaign is receiving a boost from interactive technology developed by a company founded by two MSU Advertising alumni.

Ben Hatala and Chris Roebuck both graduated from Michigan State in 2010 and 2006, respectively. Using the skills they gained through their college careers, Clicktivated came to life in 2011 in Birmingham, Mich.

The Clicktivated video technology makes it easy to interact with a video while it is playing, without the disturbance of advertisements or other distractions popping up. Clicking on items within a video powered by Clicktivated will create a sidebar with more details or the option to purchase on the side of the screen.

“As a society, we consume massive amounts of videos, but they lack something,” said Hatala, the company’s Chief Operations Officer. “We are adding that needed additional information.”

The Pure Michigan Partnership

The company recently partnered with the Pure Michigan advertising campaign, which has drawn global attention for its popular radio and television commercials promoting some of Michigan’s beautiful tourist towns.

“Pure Michigan knew they wanted to do something more with the advertisements,” Hatala said. “There was an opportunity to leverage that existing contact and there are so many chances for more information on products and spots in Michigan.

“And, they (Pure Michigan) loved the fact that Clicktivated was Michigan-based. It was a natural fit.”

Clicktivated also recently launched a new, more user-friendly experience where its technology can be used without the download of an app on an iPhone.

Using Their MSU Education

Hatala and Roebuck, the company’s Chief Executive Officer, credit their MSU education in helping establish the company as the main premise of Clicktivated is advertising based.

“The skill set and overall mentality behind advertising contributed to founding our company,” Hatala said. “It’s a creative thought process.”

While Clicktivated continues to grow organically and naturally in the United States, the company also has experienced international outreach from everywhere but Antarctica and is starting to work with clients in Singapore and Japan.

“There is definitely no shortage of interest and we’re starting to see the company in full swing in the market,” Hatala said. “Before, the market was stagnant. People were producing videos but now there’s Clicktivated to monetize those videos.”

Clothing brands are utilizing the powers of the company as well. A campaign is being launched with Miss Me Denim and there are plans with Abercrombie and Hollister in the works.

For more information on the company or to see how the technology works, visit the Clicktivated website.

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Alumnus Shares Unique Perspective on Minds (Wide) Open Event

Posted on: September 23, 2015

Mo Said main

Written by Mo Said, B.A. Advertising '12 and Copywriter at Droga5 in New York, who served as a mentor for the “Minds (Wide) Open: Communication Problem Solving From Two Sides of the World” advertising competition hosted by MSU's Department of Advertising + Public Relations Sept. 14-18

I was an advertising student at Michigan State not too long ago, and I’m now an advertising professional at Droga5. So I stood up when the MSU students were called, and again when the mentors were called upon. Besides me getting twice as much applause, I was lucky enough to have an oddly unique perspective on this whole event. And this is what I walked away with:

Mo Said main 1Professional advertising executives pay thousands of dollars during One Week to get an hour in a 200-person workshop with people like Steve Mykolyn (former Chief Brand Officer and Chief Creative Officer, Taxi, Toronto), Ross Chowles (Creative Director, The Jupiter Drawing Room, Cape Town, South Africa), Kevin Swanepoel (CEO of The One Club), etc.

And, the New York City art community lines up around the block to get a glimpse of esteemed artists like Steve Frykholm (Vice President of Creative Design, Herman Miller) and Chong Locksin (Head of Design, Serviceplan, Beijing).

But to get a week with these guys? One-on-one, learning from them, getting coached by these people? This isn’t just an opportunity that no school in the world can claim it’s gotten, but no organization no matter how well funded has ever been able to pull off.

When I saw this, I was jealous. Mad. Confused. But most of all, I was proud. I went out and bought three Spartan shirts so I could show off my colors every day I was in Michigan.

Mo Said main 2Suddenly, Michigan State wasn’t just on par with other universities that have ad programs like Texas, or ad schools with a celebrated alumni base like creative circus. Suddenly, Michigan State was a force as powerful as The One Club or Cannes.

I’d be willing to challenge anyone that this is the best thing the university has put together for its students, or any university for that matter.

A CCO stayed up all night to personally teach our team how to present. I’ve been in the industry for years and I haven’t spent more than 20 minutes with a CCO.

So thanks. From both sides of the coin – as an MSU student and as a mentor who got to be part of this event and gather a decades worth of knowledge in a week.

Please also see the student perspective on the Minds (Wide) Open event as shared by MSU Journalism student Rachel Tang, who participated in the competition. 

Photos by Jef Richards, Chair of the Department of Advertising + Public Relations

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Alumna Newly Appointed VP for Federal-Mogul Powertrain

Posted on: August 14, 2015

Colleen Hanley main 3

As early as elementary school, Colleen Hanley said she wanted to work in PR even though she had no idea what it was.

Now she knows a lot more as an experienced graduate of MSU's College of Communication Arts and Sciences. As the newly appointed Vice President of Communications and Investor Relations for Federal-Mogul Powertrain, Hanley possesses an exceptional understanding of public relations strategy and leadership, and exercises her public relations skills on national and international fronts to customers in business and industry.

"I'm very fortunate to love this kind of work and to love what I do," Hanley said. "I love southeast Michigan, too, and can't see myself ever leaving."

While she's traveled worldwide and across the United States, Hanley makes her home not far from where she grew up in Taylor and Novi.

Her father died when she was in second grade and her mother took a job as a bookkeeper for a public relations firm in downtown Detroit. Since her mother worked occasional weekends, Hanley and her sister would tag along, spending Saturday afternoons "playing office" in the Penobscot Building – a 1928 Art Deco office tower in the heart of the city's financial district.

Colleen Hanley main 2"We would type on the IBM Selectrics and call each other on the phone and pretend to do things," Hanley said. "I knew my mother worked for a PR company and I thought it was all so cool, even though I didn't really know what they did."

That exposure to the world of PR shaped Hanley's career choice and influenced her decision to attend MSU. She had heard of MSU's strong reputation in the communication professions, and set her sights on pursuing a bachelor's in Communication as well as a master's degree in Advertising and Public Relations.

While at MSU, Hanley interned with a local theater and gained real-word experience writing press releases and marketing materials. She also volunteered for several campus associations doing PR and promotions.

"Those experiences were invaluable and complemented my academics," Hanley said. "I was exposed to some exceptional thinking and brilliant intellectual conversations. I came out well-rounded with a greater appreciation for the world and the value of education."

Hanley graduated with her master's in 1991 with thoughts of packing her bags and moving to New York City but decided to pursue opportunities in her hometown. She's worked more than 25 years in southeast Michigan as an integrated marketing communications professional and has held positions at Nederman, Hewlett-Packard, EDS, Meritor, CareTech Solutions, TRW Automotive and now with Federal-Mogul Powertrain.

As a member of International Association of Business Communicators Detroit since 1992, Hanley has served as the association's president, and on various leadership and executive boards. The association recently recognized Hanley's achievements by naming her IABC/Detroit Communicator of the Year in 2013.

"Most every single role I've been in has had critical moments that drove significant change," Hanley said. "While I didn't necessarily go into this career seeking that out, I relish the opportunity to support change through the communications process."

Colleen Hanley main

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MSU Alumna Leads MSU Federal Credit Union

Posted on: June 24, 2015

April Clobes, president of Michigan State University Federal Credit Union, stands in the lobby of MSUFCU headquarters

April Clobes always knew she would go to college. Her mom told her so. Growing up in Bay City, Mich., Clobes took her mother's affirmation to heart. Soon, she owned it.

Today, Clobes is the President and CEO of the MSU Federal Credit Union (MSUFCU). It's a post she never dreamed she would have. After all, she says, she originally set out to be an attorney. Regardless of where she's landed, she knows her mother would be proud.

"My mom felt like she never had the opportunity to go to college," Clobes said. "She told me the whole time I was growing up that I would go and be successful."

Clobes became the first generation in her family to receive an education beyond high school. Her mom had worked as a housekeeper. Her stepfather on the factory floor. Armed with a strong work ethic, Clobes explored campuses across the Midwest. Originally, she wanted to go to college in Chicago. Ultimately, she chose to be a Spartan.

"MSU just felt like home," Clobes said. "I can walk onto campus today and it feels just like it did to me as a freshman. I fit. I belong here. It's beautiful."

Drive to excellence

As an undergraduate, Clobes balanced her studies with work and internships, starting at a downtown law firm, then later at the MSU Union. It was there, through her work with the Union Activities Board, now the University Activities Board, that she recognized her love of marketing and community.

"I learned how to organize events, how to interact with donors and sponsors, and how to ask people to volunteer," Clobes said. "I learned that if you're passionate about what you're doing, you'll make others passionate about it too. It translates to what I do today."

Graduating with her B.A. in marketing, Clobes went on to work in sales, but kept her sights on a career in advertising and promotions. In 1996, she found the gateway she was looking for: a position as a marketing specialist for the MSUFCU.

"It was exactly what I wanted to do with marketing: design, writing and marketing. It was a great match," she said.

Clobes says the most defining moments of her career started with simply raising her hand and volunteering to do something. As she learned by doing, Clobes progressed from heading up e-commerce and e-services, to roles as a vice president, executive vice president, and chief operating officer. Along the way, she earned her master's degree in advertising and public relations from MSU, as well as an MBA from Western Michigan University. In the spring of 2015, she succeeded the retiring Patrick McPharlin as the President and CEO of the MSUFCU.

In 19 years, Clobes has seen the MSUFCU grow from about 100 employees, $400 million in assets and 40,000 members to 650 employees, $3 billion in assets and 200,000 members. That growth hasn't stopped, with the opening of new branch offices, a second building at headquarters, and the anticipated addition of 50 to 70 employees each year over the next decade.

"My work here feels just as exciting today as it did when I came here," Clobes said. "It's exciting because I believe in what we do. We make a difference for our members. We impact our community, and we make jobs."

Clobes serves on various boards, councils and committees for her alma mater, including the MSU College of Communication Arts and Sciences Alumni Board, MSU College of Music Leadership Council, Broad Art Museum International Advisory Board, and the Wharton Center Advisory Council. Her community service includes serving on boards and committees for the Lansing Area Economic Partnership, Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce, Lansing Symphony and Physician's Health Plan.

"I believe that personal giving and commitment helps our community grow, and it helps retain and attract talent here," Clobes said. "And I just love being involved."

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Biking Across the Country for a Cause

Posted on: June 4, 2015

Derek Blalock main

Recent Advertising alumnus Derek Blalock is on a 6,500-mile, 75-day, 23-state bicycle trip in the hopes of raising $25,000 and awareness for the Thomas Smith Memorial Foundation, a foundation established in honor of Blalock’s friend, Tommy Smith, who died during their senior year of high school due to an undiagnosed enlarged heart.

The foundation works to make sure middle and high school athletes have access to free heart screening by raising funds to provide local hospitals with mobile cardiac equipment.

Since it was established, Blalock has wanted to help raise money for the Thomas Smith Memorial Foundation. The opportunity presented itself this summer.

“I came up with the idea in 2012,” Blalock said. “I got the idea from Forrest Gump when he was running back and forth across the country.”

Blalock started his fundraising bicycle ride May 16 in Charleston, South Carolina, and rode to New York City then headed to Cleveland, Ohio.

derek-blalock-balloon-launch-1On June 1, he stopped at MSU’s campus for a balloon launch event to raise money for the foundation and raise awareness around the greater Lansing community about heart screenings for teens. Each balloon that was launched had a note inside with the foundation’s Facebook page link. The goal is to connect with those who find the note from the balloon.

Blalock is now riding to Los Angeles, Calif. But he doesn’t plan to stop there. He then plans to ride back to South Carolina, where he will end his 6,500-mile journey in Greenville, S.C.

“I’m raising money for the foundation, but I am also doing it for myself to see places I have been and liked, and places I’ve never seen before,” Blalock said. “I’m most looking forward to getting back to Colorado where I interned last summer, and to Dallas, where we have a lot of events planned to raise awareness.”

So far, Blalock has faced one flat tire and has biked through very warm weather.

“It’s been really hot, but I prefer hot than cold,” Blalock said. “I’ve gotten lucky most of the days because it’s been pretty nice outside.”

Blalock said the best part of the trip has been meeting new people along the way, whether they may be local mayors or others biking for a cause.

“It’s interesting to hear other people’s stories,” he said, “and how they have been impacted by sudden cardiac arrest and other conditions.”

For more information on Blalock's trip and fundraising goal, see the Bike Across America for Tommy's Heart website.

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Alumna Living the Dream of Owning Her Own Business

Posted on: May 22, 2015

RosieQuasaranoAdvertising alumna Rosie Quasarano started Cup & Spoon as a booth at “The Nosh” in Chicago. Each Saturday, she would set up her stand, sell coffee and baked goods, and then break everything down. Now, Cup & Spoon is a brick-and-mortar store located at 2415 W. North Ave. in Chicago.

“I knew I wanted to own a coffee shop for a very long time, but starting that process was overwhelming,” said Quasarano, who got her start by being part of a local food fest that pops up once a week. “Think farmers market for restaurants.”

Cup & Spoon is now preparing to celebrate its one-year anniversary at it North Avenue location on Friday, May 29.

According to Quasarano, Cup & Spoon stands for coffee, community and art. On a daily basis, she is involved in each of those aspects – from ordering to serving, meeting with people from the community, and organizing upcoming art events in her space.

She also continues to use the advertising and public relations skills she learned at MSU.

“One of the biggest challenges for small business owners is marketing/advertising. Given my education and job experience, I feel I have a leg up on spreading the word about my business as well as the expertise to execute my creative ideas,” Quasarano said. “I do all my own advertising and public relations, including both writing and design, and manage our website, too. And, thanks to technology and social media I’m able to get the word out and reach people daily.”

Social media has allowed her business to reach a couple thousand people.

“It would be costly to have that reach using traditional media,” Quasarano said.

Cup and SpoonAs an MSU student, Quasarano was a member of the American Advertising Federation (AAF) and had two internships. One was with a small promotional company and the other a traditional advertising agency in Lansing.

“An advertising/PR degree opens up a world of possibility,” she said. “In addition to the traditional path of heading to an agency, someone with an advertising background can help play an integral role in any industry and easily transfer their skills to running a business of their own.”

After graduating from MSU, Quasarano moved to New York City and worked for Hill Holiday where she worked on national brands that included Chili’s and CVS.

She later moved to Chicago to work as an Associate Creative Director for a division of Leo Burnett.

“It (Leo Burnett) has a wonderful history of brand building and does a very good job of giving creatives access to resources and continuing education classes,” Quasarano said. “As an associate creative director, I got the opportunity to help guide concepts, refine creative ideas and build partnerships with the client.

“At Leo, I primarily used advertising skills. Now as a freelancer and small business owner, I use my PR skills quite a bit – from crafting press releases to social media to talking with the press, and more.”

In October 2013, Quasarano decided to give her full-time attention to Cup & Spoon.

“I left my job at Leo Burnett and set out to follow my dream,” she said.

To support her venture, Quasarano also started freelance writing on the side.

“Everyone dreams of being their own boss, and it really is wonderful, but it’s a lot of hard work, too,” Quasarano said. “It’s a juggling act for sure, but seeing my dream not only come true, but grow, makes it all worth it.”

by Rachel Tang, Public Relations Assistant/ Journalism Senior

 

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Six Alumni to Receive ComArtSci Alumni Awards

Posted on: April 8, 2015

The Celebration

The College of Communication Arts and Sciences will present this year's Outstanding Alumni Awards and the Rising Star Award at "The Celebration," the college's annual awards dinner and ceremony, on Saturday, May 9, at 6 p.m. in the WKAR Studios, located in the ComArtSci Building, 404 Wilson Road, East Lansing.

Five alumni will receive Outstanding Alumni Awards, which recognizes alumni who have obtained the highest level of professional or academic achievement and demonstrated service to the college and community.

The 2015 Outstanding Alumni Award recipients are:

  • Nicholas D. Becharas, B.A. Advertising '84 , President and CEO of Becharas Brothers Coffee
  • Geoff Johns, B.A. Telecommunication '95, Chief Creative Officer of DC Entertainment
  • Angela R. Massenberg, Ph.D. Audiology & Speech Sciences '88, President of Massenberg & Associates
  • Diane Neal, B.S. Retailing '79, CEO of Sur La Table
  • Dale Petroskey, B.A. Journalism '78, President and CEO of the Dallas Regional Chamber of Commerce

Derek Wallbank, B.A. Journalism '06 , Editor of Bloomberg First Word-D.C. Breaking News Desk, will receive the 2015 Rising Star Award, which honors alumni who have graduated within the past 10 years and have shown a strong record of accomplishment and service to the college.

The Celebration is free to attend, but registration is required. Reservations will be accepted in the order received up to the capacity of the venue. Please RSVP by Wednesday, April 29.

To make a reservation by email or phone, obtain additional information or request accommodation for persons with disabilities, contact Rachael Ruis at casalum@msu.edu or (517) 432-7207.

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Creative Advertising Grad Honored for Having Highest GPA

Posted on: December 15, 2014

Henrik BlixCreative Advertising major Henrik Blix was one of six students who were recognized with Board of Trustees' Awards for having the highest grade point average at the close of their last semesters in attendance as undergraduates at MSU.

Blix and the other students were honored at the Dec. 12 Board of Trustees meeting. They also were recognized at their commencement ceremonies on Dec. 13.

A member of the Honors College, Blix graduated with a 4.0 GPA. He is from Kalamazoo, Mich., and is the son of Gregor and Sandra Blix.

"Henrik is a fabulous student, an amazing creative talent, and an incredibly nice young man," said Jef Richards, Chair of the Department of Advertising + Public Relations. "I'm almost sorry to see him graduate. But I know he's destined to be an equally wonderful MSU alum."

Blix was one of the College of Communication Arts and Sciences students who recently traveled to Beijing, China, with Assistant Professor of Advertising Henry Brimmer to participate in the OneClub China Youth Creative Festival.

"Henrik is a copywriter with great ideas and a sense of humor," Brimmer said. "At first glance, he looks straight as an arrow, but looks are deceiving; the romantic dialogue between a cheese and a wine variety he wrote for a Sartori Cheese and 2 Lads Winery co-op campaign won him numerous ADDY awards, while his dry sense of humor won him a prestigious Juror's Choice Award for his Oberon TV spots."

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