WMU digital marketing student wins first place in national Adobe competition

Contact: Stacey Anderson

Crizio Sinuraya

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Imagination unleashed, paired with careful planning and execution. That is what Western Michigan University student Crizio Sinuraya brought to Adobe’s 2023 Digital Edge Awards where he was named the overall winner and recipient of a $10,000 prize. The WMU digital marketing and eCommerce major from Yogyakarta, Indonesia, wowed the judges with his creative yet minimalist approach to the LifeDog smartwatch campaign he submitted for the competition. From more than 1,400 entries, Sinuraya’s designs stood out as original, thoughtful, targeted and digitally literate.

LifeDog, the first smartwatch for dogs, is lightweight and resistant to bites, scratches and heavy use. The watch offers GPS tracking, activity logs, health check-up reminders and alerts for daily feeding and hydration schedules. It also converts time from human-scale to dog-scale, based on the 1:7 ratio where every human year is roughly seven years in a dog’s life. Sinuraya’s digital marketing campaign for the watch began as a class assignment in Executive-in-residence Greg Gerfen’s advertising and promotion course where Gerfen requires students to submit a campaign for a patented product. Seeing the work of past students sparked Sinuraya’s desire to submit his best work.

“I was motivated to make my designs look as professional as possible and go the extra mile, so I decided to make everything, including the product illustration, from scratch on Adobe Illustrator,” he says. “It took me a few weeks to envision what I wanted to show with my ads, but after careful consideration, I decided to introduce the watch in the most straightforward way possible while still making the message relevant to the target market.”

Target market

Sinuraya describes LifeDog’s consumers as “technophile dog owners” who adopt the latest tech trends and whose canine companions hold a special place in their hearts. In fact, he was inspired to create this campaign because of the unique place dogs have in American culture. “The LifeDog campaign came from a bit of culture shock that I experienced when I first moved to the United States. Here, dogs are treated with so much care and are even regarded as family members. Professor Gerfen himself did not forget to mention his dog, Winni, when he introduced himself to us in our very first class.”

Though Hollywood movies had introduced Sinuraya to the special place dogs hold in the U.S., observing and experiencing it firsthand was very different. He paired his newfound perspective and growing affections for animals with his design aesthetic. A self-dubbed “Apple fanboy,” Sinuraya has always been drawn to Apple’s marketing concepts and wanted to create digital advertising that was powerful, yet simple, much like Apple’s iconic ads.

“This project requires students to perform the roles of several positions within an advertising agency,” says Gerfen. “They must understand the marketing problem, set objectives, identify and discover an insight about the target audience, write a creative brief and create a campaign. Crizio excelled in all phases of the project, but what really stood out was his final presentation. His slides were elegant, impactful and complemented his presentation. His use of the Adobe platform far exceeded the requirements of the assignment and made his presentation one of the most memorable I have seen.”

Sinuraya's journey

But as good as Sinuraya’s work was, the journey from competence to confidence was not as straightforward as his designs were. “When I submitted my work, all I was thinking of was overcoming my impostor syndrome and just getting my work out there,” he says. “I felt a little anxious, but I was also really excited to show the judges what I had created. I told myself to keep my expectations low to avoid getting disappointed.”

In summer 2023, he learned that he had been shortlisted in the top 10 for the category he had entered: business. Soon after, he was informed that he had won the competition’s top prize. “At first, I was unsure whether I was an overall winner, or one of the four category winners. When I found out that I had won the top prize, I remember screaming and jumping in excitement. My parents and siblings were the first people that I told about this win.”

At WMU, Sinuraya has found a supportive network of people who have encouraged and uplifted him, citing both Gerfen and Dr. Scott Cowley, associate professor of marketing, as faculty who have helped him gain confidence in his skills and develop his ability to connect with others on marketing topics. In spring 2023, he participated in the international Digital Marketing Competition under Cowley’s leadership where his team took second place in a field of more than 200 competitors.

In December, Sinuraya will cross the stage to receive his diploma, and he hopes to stay in the United States and secure a digital marketing position at a major airline, which taps into one of his other passions, aviation. He hopes that this win and the experiences he is having in the digital marketing and eCommerce program at WMU Haworth will help this dream take wing.

View Sinuraya’s LifeDog campaign

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