History Channel airs student#039;s ad

by Beacon Staff • April 25, 2007

Nicholson, winner of the History Channel's "Digging for the Truth" Collegiate Challenge, won by designing a commercial he described as being "like a cheesy '90s commercial like those 7-Up dots.,For Andrew Nicholson, a sophomore TV/video major, inspiration came from old soda commercials.

Nicholson, winner of the History Channel's "Digging for the Truth" Collegiate Challenge, won by designing a commercial he described as being "like a cheesy '90s commercial like those 7-Up dots. They're funny adventure commercials."

The contest, developed by the college media and marketing company Zilo Networks, was open to students attending four schools with top film and television programs: Emerson College, Boston University, New York University and the New York Film Academy.

Students were required to create a 30-second promotional spot to encourage viewers to tune into "Digging for the Truth," a show that travels around the world to different archaeological sites in what the channel calls "some of the most intriguing, remote and physically challenging locations in the world."

Nicholson won $1,000 and his commercial was shown on the History Channel Monday.

"I'd seen bits and pieces of ['Digging for the Truth'] flipping through the channels," Nicholson said in an interview with The Beacon.

When it came to the contest, Nicholson put it on the back burner.

"Maybe I'll do it eventually," he remembers thinking. That "eventually" came during winter break, at home in Tampa, Fla.

"You don't really do anything [during winter break]," he said. "Just sit around and watch things like the History Channel."

Soon Nicholson found himself and a few friends with a camera making the advertisement. The commercial starred his Piano Row suitemate, sophomore audio-radio major John Parsons, on an expedition searching for a television in the midst of a jungle.

"We popped a hat on him, some safari clothes, stole/found a bunch of plants around town, rearranged a room in my house, set up some Home Depot lights, the bed sheets, and a fog machine we happened to have lying around," Nicholson said. "It worked out, and you have a commercial, right there, free."

Zilo Networks Creative Director and Head of Programming Campbell McLaren, who also judged the contest, said he was impressed Nicholson made the spot on such a small budget.

"I didn't think it was a student. I thought the network had put in a spot as a ringer," said McLaren when reached by phone. "I thought the production values and the humor were incredible."

After wrapping up filming, the long process of editing became first priority.

"I edited it on the plane and talked to Richard Feindel," Nicholson said. "I did a rough cut, and then talked to him since I knew he was a better editor than me because I didn't have too much time on my plate to perfect it. So he edited it quite a bit and we shipped it off and now I have $1,000."

Feindel, a sophomore TV/video and marketing duel-major and 2006 Evvy winner for best commercial, remembers when he entered the process.

"I was in the airport coming home from Christmas break. [Nicholson] sent me a rough cut and I asked if he wanted help with it," he said "So we worked on it the first week we came back to school."

McLaren noticed the hard work. "They made it sparkle," he said.

This is Nicholson's first contest entry.

"I usually don't like contests," he said. "I usually don't do them but I was like, hey, I could use the cash. It was on a whim and it worked out."

What's next on Nicholson's list?

Spending his winnings.

"Pizza and assorted items [are next]," he said. "It'll be sweet."

There's also an added bonus:

"My dad'll be proud because he loves the History Channel," he said.