Alumni Spotlight: Michael Roma

We asked Michael Roma (MFAD'08) to answer a few questions about his experience at MFA Design and some of the projects he is currently working on.

Professionally, I always wear a hat on my head and glasses on my face. I am an Associate Creative Director at VaynerMedia, a full service agency with strong focus on social media and one of AdAge’s 2017 Agencies to Watch. After working on the domestic and Global Stella Artois accounts for the past two years, I am now transitioning on to the expanding J.P. Morgan Chase business.

My thesis, was a weekly web series called LAME, hammered home the need to be a forward thinker in the space of social/ video. It might sound silly now, but, at the time I pitched LAME, the first iPhone had just launched and I saw we were on the verge of a cultural shift. I believed the iPhone would eventually become a consumer’s personal TV or second screen, people will eventually consume tailored/niche content from their phone on their commutes and less from newspapers, books and TV. I used LAME as a springboard to work for Gary Vaynerchuk at VaynerMedia.

In the long term, I want to achieve a good balance between work and life. Striving towards  80% of the work be stuff I am proud of. A short term goal for me is to continue to evolve as a creative and in particular, my knowledge and understanding of Chase so I can help the problem solving skills of my team. In doing so this will not only help the team create impactful work but help myself to grow as a creative leader.

My experience at SVA had a giant impact on me. If it weren’t for SVA MFAD, I would not see the world the way I do now.  As if I could only see black and white my whole life and then one day, I could see in color. I struggled, I grew, I failed, I learned, I studied, I got confused, I laughed, I slept a little, I got smarter, I made lasting friendships, I succeeded. Those 2 years significantly influence my career today and the work I do. I teach my team that designing something pretty is not enough, you need to solve a problem. We are problem solvers first and foremost, and we need a full 360 view of the project to truly create work that has the potential to make a true connection with someone.

We all have strengths and weaknesses, but being able to “do it all” is one of the magic things I took away from the program. A strength is only a strength because you put the time into making it one. You can make your weakness a strength if you put the time in to do so. For me, the “do it all” approach is awesome. If you don't know how to do something, fuckin figure it out. It’s simple. You only fail the second you stop learning. The program starts as the “do it all,” but once you pick your thesis, you get to narrow the “do it all” approach and become the expert on the items you need to make a kick ass thesis, that you will be proud of for years to come.

What advice would I give to incoming students? Learn to enjoy the process. You will get lost along the way and think you are not good enough, but there’s a reason you were selected for this program. Take ownership of your thesis. It is your baby but be open to advice and guidance along the way.

Check out the Social video my team and I created for Stella Artois Cidre & Water.org
How do you entice consumers to drink a cider they’ve never heard of? Or surpass preconceived sticky, sweet notions about cider in general? Create a thumb-stopping, mouth-watering video that brings this nonconforming cider to life. Introducing Stella Artois Cidre.

Stella Artois Cidre Hot Toddy Instagram Story
It’s an “interactive” drink recipe. We took the insight that when you tap on the screen during an Instagram Story that it skips to the next video or photo, so we added some whimsy and allowed the user to feel like a part of the drink making magic using Facebook Canvas Stella Artois and Water.org

For the partnership of Stella Artois and Water.org (Yes Matt Damon’s Charity, and yes, he is in the video), we created a full digital/social campaign for them. One piece I am excited about is the Facebook Canvas Unit we created where we follow Elizabeth who has been greatly affected by our water efforts. It shows the huge impact that having access to clean water can do for someone. Before the water pump Elizabeth walked up to 6 hours a day collecting water, She would not get back from collecting water until noon, where she would wash and feed her child breakfast. Now with having access to clean water from the pump that we installed, she has the opportunity to explore her passions and give back to her community.   

The second Canvas that we created is more about showing off the beautiful artwork on the limited edition chalice and at the same time letting people know how simple it is to take part in our efforts by buying 1 limited edition chalice that gives 5 years clean drinking water to a family in the developing world. 

How can I help you? Shoot me an email: romadesign@gmail.com