UGA advertising alumni shine with Super Bowl commercials

Jason Kreher (ABJ ’00), a Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication alumnus, had a hand in creating two of the most popular commercials during this year’s Super Bowl.

He served as creative director for both the Irish Spring cult-horror parody and the minimalist Coinbase DVD logo reference. The Coinbase ad was ranked No.1 by Ad Age and AdWeek and received a Super Clio for best ad in the Super Bowl.

Getting to know Jason

Jason enrolled at UGA in 1996 already interested in the journalism school. He gives a lot of credit to Karen Whitehill King’s media class in which he said he learned “literally everything I know today.” 

After graduating in 2000, Jason traveled to Florence, Italy, before returning to the United States and landing a job as an assistant account executive on the intel account. In 2008, Jason joined the international advertising agency Wieden + Kennedy where he worked his way up to the creative director of its entertainment and editorial division.  

During this time, he earned the 2017 Henry W. Grady Mid-Career Alumni Award. Though he finds the ‘Mid-Career’ part of the title “hilariously diminutive,” he still asserts that this was the most exciting award to receive—and he’s received a lot of awards, including two Grand Prix’s at the Ciclope International Festival of Craft and the AICP’s Campaign of the Year, to name a few.  

After 14 years with Wieden + Kennedy, Jason found a new position as chief creative officer North America at Accenture Interactive. It was with this agency that Jason created and directed the Coinbase and Irish Spring ads for the Super Bowl. 

Jason (right) with Karen Whitehall King and Grady alumnus Tatum Shaw (ABJ ’02).

About the ads

He says he is pleased with the ads’ receptions. He prides himself on creating provocative ads, so when Coinbase’s one-minute-long bouncing QR code received mixed reviews, he was thrilled it was getting lots of attention.

“The Coinbase response was incredibly fun to watch happen in real time,” he said. “I love that once the dust settled, the spot came in first in the AdWeek and Ad Age polls and dead last in the USA Today poll. We knew the commercial wasn’t for everyone, but that was never the point. The number of people who scanned and the number of people who stayed and signed up exceeded our clients’ wildest expectations.”  

Despite being the more traditional of the two commercials—if you can call a sweaty man stumbling into a cleaning-obsessed cult traditional—Jason is happy with how the Irish Spring ad turned out, too.  

“Irish Spring made a few top ten lists as well,” he said. “But the funniest part is that I snuck in my high school’s logo on the main character’s shirt. Apparently, Brookwood pride is very real, almost alarmingly so. My clients were like, ‘why is our social feed lighting up in Snellville Georgia all of a sudden?’ Nice work, Internet Broncos.”  

All of Jason’s work—advertisements, short films, songs and more—are on his website. 

Jason shooting a campaign in Prague.

If you want more Super Bowl ads by Georgia Bulldogs …

Grady alumnus Andy Pearson (ABJ ’06, AB ’06) also had a hand in a popular regional commercial for Liquid Death.

Andy served as the vice president of creative services for the ad which featured small children (and one pregnant woman) partying and drinking the non-alcoholic sparkling water to Judas Priest’s “Breaking the Law.” The brand purposefully markets itself to look alcoholic to give those who don’t want to drink a healthier alternative without feeling pressured.

Andy also has his own website with his many advertising campaigns. He and his wife, Liza Behles, also have a joint website where they freelance remotely as a creative duo.

Support the next generation of ad industry professionals by giving to the Advertising Education Fund.

Basketball connects UGA mentor with Destination Dawg

In 2017, the University of Georgia launched Destination Dawgs to help students with intellectual disabilities gain the skills and confidence to prepare for independence and careers after graduation. Through the program, students immerse themselves in all UGA has to offer, not only gaining a fulfilling academic experience, but also a rewarding social experience.  

To help cultivate an even deeper connection with UGA, Destination Dawgs partners with the university’s Mentor Program to pair students with intellectual disabilities with alumni, faculty and staff mentors. The experience gives students insight and advice on life during and after UGA. 

It was through the UGA Mentor Program that alumnus Matt Cianfrone (AB ’12) met Jesse Pearson, a student in Destination Dawgs.

Meet Jesse

Jesse has been at UGA for about a year and will begin his third semester this fall. He is loving the campus experience, especially when he takes new classes and meets new friends.  

One of his favorite pastimes includes playing intramural basketball at the Ramsey Student Center, where he also is an intern. Jesse is passionate about basketball and hopes to become a coach for the sport after graduation.

Jesse contacted Matt through the UGA Mentor Program platform after seeing on Matt’s profile that they had a mutual interest in basketball. The two exchanged emails and found that they made a good mentoring pair since Jesse wanted advice about coaching and Matt is a coach.

Matt is a wonderful mentor,” Jesse said. “He was always kind and ready to help. We have the same interests. He seems like he is a great coach, and he knows what is expected of him and how he can help others. 

Meet Matt

Matt hails from Middlesex County in New Jersey. His hometown is small–just a single square mile–and the local high school comprising only 200 students. Attending UGA, where a single lecture hall can fit that many people, was an enormous shock to Matt.

Despite the drastic change in environment, Matt loved his time on campus. And although he has since returned to New Jersey to teach and coach basketball, he’s still connected to UGA and is eager to help students identify their passions.  

“Any way I could stay connected to campus was a big thing for me, so I jumped at the opportunity to sign up for the Mentor Program,” Matt said. “If I can help a couple people here and there, it is definitely worth it.” 

Their connection

After becoming mentor and mentee, Matt and Jesse often talked over the phone. Despite Matt living nearly 800 miles away from Athens, the two formed a meaningful connection, and Matt provided Jesse with valuable advice. 

“I learned so much from Matt and from his experience,” Jesse said. “Matt encouraged me to keep pursuing coaching. He explained that even if I do not stick to coaching, it would be reasonable to still find a career related to sports and the field I am passionate about.” 

As Matt mentored Jesse, giving him advice and telling him the steps that he took to become a coach, he found himself reflecting on his own journey. Their conversations allowed for both Matt and Jesse to grow and learn from each other, all while sharing their love of basketball.  

The entire process was wonderful,” Matt said. “I already cannot wait to continue on as a UGA mentor, talking to more students and helping in any way that I can.”

Interested in connecting with students and contributing to their success? Sign up to be a UGA Mentor today! You’ll be amazed at how much you get back from giving in this way.


Ninth annual TEDxUGA awakens Wonder

It’s no small wonder that transformation starts with one: one person, one muse, one idea. A single stroke of inspiration has the power to unite communities in pursuit of dreams that exist at the crossroads of the unfamiliar and the awe-inspiring. 

Some of the brightest UGA students, faculty and alumni will step onto the stage for the TEDxUGA: Wonder on Friday, April 1 at the Morton Theatre. The event will begin at 7 p.m. There is also a virtual livestreaming option for those who want to attend from the comfort of their own home.  

The lineup this year features eight UGA speakers, two of which are alumni, and one alumna serving as the program’s emcee. 


Darrell Blocker (AB ’86) is the chief operating officer at the boutique strategic risk and crisis management, intelligence and security advisory firm MOSAIC. He creates espionage-themed content in Hollywood and volunteers with nonprofits dedicated to improving the future of youth in foster care and countering the exploitation and human trafficking of youth and women. In his talk, Darrell speaks on why the world should be a kinder place. 

Charlie Mustard (MS ’97) is the longtime head roaster at Jittery Joe’s, an Athens-based coffee roasting company. As a proud Athenian of 29 years and an engaged community member, Charlie takes the TEDxUGA stage to speak on the importance of community participation and how you can make your own home unique. 


Dominique Holloman (BS ’01, AB ’01, MED ’04, JD ’04) is a former member of the Board of Visitors and the Law School Alumni Council, and she currently serves on the Alumni Association Board of Directors. Dominique was the inaugural president of the affinity group UGA Black Alumni and a member of the 40 Under 40 Class of 2017. In addition to her work as a government affairs professional, she continues to help create a more diverse and dynamic community at UGA. 

For nine years, TEDxUGA has brought UGA and the Athens community together to listen and learn from individuals and their extraordinary stories, philosophies and ideas. Consider registering to experience the connectivity that fosters creativity and inspiration from the university’s leading thinkers and doers. 


Navigating a male-dominated space

In honor of Women’s History Month, the UGA Mentor Program is saluting women making strides in traditionally male-dominated fields and the men serving as allies for them. Meet UGA mechanical engineering student Camila Daffre, Class of 2024, and her mentor Aaron Stafford (BSME ’19).

The fact that Aaron was once the lone male on an otherwise all-female team helped him develop empathy for the challenges women face in the male-dominated world of mechanical engineering.

Camila is grateful for the additional people she’s met through Aaron’s introductions. “He has placed me in contact with a diverse group–not just ethnically diverse, but also people at different points in their careers–engineers just starting families and working moms who have risen in the profession. Their insight has been valuable in helping me plan for my future,” Camila said.

Introducing Camila to others in his workplace has benefited Aaron as well. “Connecting Camila with colleagues has raised my profile and strengthened relationships within my company,” Aaron said. “It helps that Camila is always prepared for these chats and asks such amazing questions. I hear good things back from my co-workers after a discussion with Camila.”

When Camila and Aaron met, their connection was instant. It has proven to be lasting, too, extending far beyond a standard 16-week mentorship and spanning a multitude of topics besides her chosen career path. Camilla now characterizes Aaron as “my life mentor.” They have been meeting up virtually every other week for two years now.

The format they’ve established for their meetings is based on the question, “What’s a challenge you’ve faced this week?” And the feedback/problem-solving flows both ways between the two of them. “I appreciate Camila’s perspective,” said Aaron. “Our relationship helps me prepare to be a manager down the line.”

Your experience could mean so much to a student following in your footsteps. Discover the joy of serving as a mentor. It may amaze you how much you get out of giving back in this way.

Wait, there’s more!

Camila first sought to connect with Aaron because she found herself torn between the choice to pursue a manufacturing or a corporate path in mechanical engineering. Aaron has experience in both. To find out which path Camila chose and hear more from this duo about their dynamic mentorship connection, check out this episode of RealTalk, the UGA Mentor Program’s podcast.

And even more!

Join Women of UGA for the first Mentorship Monday of 2022, a virtual panel discussion with women in traditionally male-dominated spaces on Monday, March 21 at noon.

Oh, Danny Boy!

Ireland-born Daniel Harris’s environmental work is all about making the world … green

Daniel Harris has a fond childhood memory. He’s a toddler on a shoreline near Sligo, his Irish birthplace. Bundled in oilskins, he’s helping his parents gather periwinkles, a tidal shellfish, to sell in town.

“It’s pretty clear from this memory,” Harris says, “that my career traipsing through intertidal waters and the natural world began at an early age.”

Daniel locating a puffin

As a kid, Daniel found a puffin nest on Skellig Michael. His dad would go on to see that same marked puffin every year for more than a decade.

The traipsing never stopped. Harris is currently polishing his dissertation for a Ph.D. in ecology from the University of Georgia.

Harris came to the United States in 2006, after completing his undergraduate studies in geology and zoology from the National University of Ireland, Galway. After absorbing Southern culture from Georgia family members, he fell into a job in coastal waters almost by chance.

Or maybe it was the luck o’ the Irish.

“My aunt got jury duty, and another juror had a son who worked for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources,” Harris says. “They talked, and I learned about a job opening with UGA’s Marine Extension Service (MAREX). I applied and then found out my boss was also Irish and a NUIG alum.”

Harris guided oyster restoration projects and oyster shell recycling programs along Georgia’s rich Atlantic intertidal coastline.

Daniel Harris

Daniel is just one example of thousands of committed graduate students at the University of Georgia who are seeking to change the world through their research and service.

“I worked as program coordinator for G.E.O.R.G.I.A., which stands for Generating Enhanced Oyster Reefs in Georgia’s Inshore Areas,” Harris says. “I fell in love with the Georgia coast and its people.”

After praise for a presentation on his green work at “Restoring America’s Estuaries,” a big conference in Texas, Harris began to consider graduate studies in ecology.

He knew James Byers of UGA’s Odum School of Ecology, who conducted research on the coast not far from Harris’s MAREX office. Harris raised his profile with Byers, volunteering to help his team of researchers in various ways, including loaning expert boating skills. (Harris has thousands of hours of small craft piloting.)

Harris applied for the university’s doctoral program in 2012, and Byers gladly became his advisor.

“Daniel,” Byers says, “has used drone and airplane aerial photography, plus field and lab experiments, to study the relationship of two beneficial coastal organisms–the oyster and the smooth cordgrass growing everywhere in the Georgia estuary system. Daniel’s work has furthered our knowledge about how they interact.”

“Like the beaver,” Harris explains, “both species are ecosystem engineers, designing the environments around them. Our work mapped the distribution patterns of these two species, and we studied how those patterns might change with changes in climate and sea level.”

Harris says financial support from UGA has been fundamental, funding MAREX, where he worked six years, and relieving costs of his UGA studies and research.

“All of my work has been in Georgia,” Harris says gratefully, “and it’s been very much helped by people at UGA or affiliated with UGA.”

In 2020, Harris moved on to work with Katharyn Boyer at the Estuary and Ocean Science Center at San Francisco State University while finishing his dissertation. Harris and his researcher fiancée, Laura Hollander (BSFR ’09), share a tiny house a short walk from San Francisco Bay, where Harris designs innovative reef structures for oyster habitat in San Francisco Bay and researches habits of an endangered marsh bird.

The color green, to many Irishmen, means St. Patrick’s Day. Harris appreciates the holiday honoring Ireland’s patron saint, but he explains that the holiday is a much bigger occasion in the U.S. than it is in Ireland. He recalls colorful childhood parades, but nothing on the scale of holiday festivities like those in Savannah, where he lived five years during his Georgia coastal work.

Men in a St. Patrick's Day parade in Ireland

A St. Patrick’s Day parade on Achill Island features gentlemen wearing the bushes of shamrock that are characteristic of the celebration in Ireland.

“Now that’s a spectacle,” Harris says. “For two of the years I was there, the Savannah parade was the best-attended St. Patrick’s Day parade in the world–bigger than Boston’s or New York’s.”

“Not many people in Ireland would put on those shamrock-embroidered green blazers they wear in Savannah,” he laughs. “But it sure is a sight to see.”

Young Daniel Harris on St. Patrick's Day

Daniel, shown here with his St. Patrick’s Day hat and badge, was always up to no good, he says. He’d charge the drunken men to use the pub toilets in his hometown.


A few notes:

  • Daniel’s father is publishing a book about life on Skellig Michael, an island off the west coast of Ireland. Read more about the book and peek at a photo of Daniel on the island … stalked by a puffin!
  • The Savannah Alumni Chapter will host a float in the 2022 St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Follow their Instagram account for more details.

This profile was written by Charles McNair.


UGA Class of 2021 achieves 92 percent career outcomes rate

Ninety-two percent of the University of Georgia Class of 2021 are employed, attending grad school or engaged in post-grad internships, all within six months of graduation, according to career outcomes data released by the UGA Career Center. The information includes undergraduate, graduate and professional students who earned degrees between August 2020 and May 2021.

Specifically, among 2021 UGA graduates, 63 percent reported being employed full time; 20 percent were attending graduate school; and 9 percent were engaged in post-graduate internships, fellowships, residencies, postdoctoral research, part-time jobs, reported their status as entrepreneurs or said they were not seeking employment.

“UGA students are exceptionally talented and possess not only the technical skills, but also key career readiness skills that employers are seeking. This includes leadership, teamwork, critical thinking and professionalism,” said Scott Williams, executive director of the UGA Career Center. “Furthermore, our university community is becoming more involved in helping students achieve their career goals, evidenced by the over 1,200 faculty and staff who were nominated and identified by students via UGA’s Career Outcomes Survey as individuals who greatly influenced their career development and decision making.”

A total of 2,950 unique employers hired graduates from UGA’s Class of 2021. Of the graduates working full time, they reported working across all sectors of the economy, including:

  • Business – 73 percent
  • Education – 17 percent
  • Government – 6 percent
  • Nonprofit – 4 percent

Top employers for the Class of 2021 include AT&T, Cox Communications, General Motors, State Farm Insurance and Wells Fargo & Company.

Of those graduates employed full time, 61 percent said they secured employment prior to graduation and 99 percent were hired within six months of graduation.

Following time off for travel, December 2021 graduate Merryn Ruthling will work as a SHINE marketing associate at Deloitte (a Top 25 Employer for the Class of 2021). She credits the UGA Career Center as the number one reason she landed this role. She met with her UGA career consultant to practice interviews, build a portfolio, create targeted resumes and cover letters and, finally, for tips on salary negotiations. Ruthling first visited the Career Center as an incoming freshman.

“Meeting with various career consultants helped me learn that getting a job is a combination of who you know, your experiences and what you study–not just what you majored in,” she said.

UGA welcomes and prepares students from around the world, but as a land- and sea-grant institution, it places great emphasis on ensuring the state of Georgia has a strong pipeline of leaders across all industries. Of the Class of 2021, 71 percent accepted jobs within the state of Georgia. The other 29 percent secured positions across 48 states and 21 countries. Some out-of-state destinations include Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, New York City, and Washington, D.C.

The 20 percent of 2021 graduates furthering their education have enrolled in top schools, including Columbia University, Duke University, Emory University, Johns Hopkins University, Stanford University, the University of Virginia and, of course, UGA.

For example, Lizy Hoepfinger, a December 2021 UGA graduate, chose to continue her education rather than entering the workforce following graduation.

“Using resources provided by the UGA Career Center, I determined what kind of job I want; from there I realized that going to grad school was the best next step for me,” she said.

Hoepfinger began a Master of Science in Artificial Intelligence at UGA and plans to pursue a career with an innovative tech company upon completion of her degree.

The UGA Career Center calculates the career outcomes rate each January by collecting information from surveys, phone calls, employer reporting, UGA departments, LinkedIn and the National Student Clearinghouse. The preceding data is based on the known career outcomes of 7,618 graduates from the Class of 2021.

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