Posted: May 12, 2015, 9:27 a.m.
by Esther Workman.
The best ideas hit you when you least expect it.
For The University of Alabama’s Ad Team Account Executive Morgan Aceino and Art Director Matt Williams, it happened in a parking lot at 1 a.m. in Tuscaloosa.
“I have this idea for the campaign,” Williams told her.
Faced with the challenge of combating binge-drinking on college campuses, the 2009 Ad Team surveyed peers and classmates asking what they thought about the epidemic.
“People have this perception that binge-drinking means having 10 or more drinks per hour, when in reality, the number is much lower than that,” Aceino said.
And so the LessThanUThink (LTUT) campaign was born. Aceino led her team to first place at the National Student Advertising Competition (NSAC) regional competition and second overall at the national competition.
While Aceino and her team may not have won, NSAC offered The University of Alabama an exclusive grant to implement the campaign on its campus. Less Than U Think has since expanded nationally to serve students at Sacred Heart University in Connecticut in addition to the University of Alabama.
Most recently in 2013, LTUT teamed up with Shaq to produce an exclusive video to be shown at the BCS National Championship game and Men’s SEC Basketball Tournament.
“They didn’t win first place, but they won the client’s business,” Mike Little, University of Alabama advertising and public relations instructor, said. “So in essence they did win, and she [Aceino] was a big part of that.”
It was in Little’s office that Aceino came to realize her love for advertising as a freshman.
“She had very strong will, and drive will get you anywhere,” Little said. “She has so much drive that she carries people along with her.”
It was Aceino’s drive that led her to the take the next step in her career by enrolling in the VCU Brandcenter. A self proclaimed “over-achiever,” Aceino ignored those who said grad school wasn’t necessary.
“It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made,” Aceino said. “They challenged me; it helped me develop as a human. It made me a lot stronger and a lot more creative.”
The Brandcenter is where Aceino met countless friends and connections across the industry, and most importantly, her husband, Adam.
After graduating from the Brandcenter, Aceino was faced with another big decision; one that many advertising and PR majors face: New York or L.A.?
The decision came down to one thing.
“When we looked at how we could live in each place, it was ’we can pay this amount and live in a shoebox or this amount and live in a shoebox by the ocean,’ so we chose the ocean,” she said, laughing.
After a brief stint at Crispin Porter + Bogusky, Aceino joined Omelet in August 2012 as a brand strategist. On day one, Chief Strategy Officer Sean McNamara challenged Aceino to develop the Strategy department from the ground up. Three years later, Strategy is one of the biggest profit centers for Omelet.
“That department is definitely one of the highlights of my career so far,” Aceino said. “They let me stretch and grow and play and dream, and it was amazing.”
Needless to say, the girl from Luverne, Alabama, is doing pretty well for herself. So well, in fact, that she doesn’t even have to look for jobs — they come to her.
Deutsch Inc. contacted Aceino to interview for the senior account planner position. The opportunity was one that Aceino couldn’t pass up. Deutsch is one of the top advertising agencies in the United States, ranked No. 2 on Ad Age’s Agency A-List for 2015.
“[Deutsch] is beautifully inspirational and creative,” she said. “Everyone there is massively talented, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to be there.”
For now, Aceino is content continuing to learn and grow. One day she hopes to open her own shop, and then ultimately take over the world.
When she isn’t busy scheming, Aceino enjoys eating and #ragecooking, as she affectionately calls it . . . and eating. She really enjoys eating.
“I’m also pretty obsessed with my puppy, Cali,” Aceino said. “She keeps me from being too stressed out and routinely makes me get outside and actually enjoy living within walking distance of the beach.”
By “puppy,” she means full-sized German Shepard with the personality of a human.
For those who are considering a career in advertising, Aceino recommends diving in head first and never looking back.
“I love that I get to play for a living,” she said. “I get to think about things that no one else actually has to care about. On top of that, I love that it’s an industry where it’s completely fine to have a beer at 3 p.m. if you need one; your dog can come to work with you. I think that being around tremendously creative, intelligent people is something that makes my soul happy.”
Looking back on the long days and sleepless nights, Aceino reflects on her time at Alabama with a smile.
“Ad Team gave me an experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything, because I know that it was the foundation for where I was going to go with my life,” she said.
Be bold; be creative; and most of all, be weird. It takes less than you think.