A unique marriage proposal catches viewer attention nation-wide

By Madelynne Scales

Mass communication students gathered in a classroom Thursday during Mass Comm Week to hear how one professional used his skills to create an adverting love story.

Nick Bastress, Advertising Account Executive at Time Warner Cable Media Sales, spoke candidly to students during the “Nic and Nick: An Advertising Love Story” session on how he used his knowledge of commercial advertisement to propose to his now fiancé.

“One day I was thinking, I knew I wanted to propose to my now fiancé, but I just didn’t know how to do it. I was like you know, far-fetched idea, but I could put a commercial together,” Bastress said.

The couple met in a statistics class at Texas State University and bonded quickly through a mutual appreciation for soccer.

“Soccer’s really important to [her] family and it’s important to us; we both like soccer,” Bastress said.

Combining his advertising skills and passion for soccer, Bastress developed the idea to propose to his girlfriend through a personalized commercial aired during the World Cup. Bastress said after he gained approval from Time Warner Inc., he began working with Sara Helmy, CEO of Tribu, on the creative process.

“What we really love to do is focus on what’s progressive, try new things – be bold,” Helmy said.

And bold they were.

Helmy said the first step in the creative process was getting to know the couple to ensure the message would resonate. She said understanding the relationship would allow them to create something that would make sense to a grand audience while also making sense to Bastress’ girlfriend.

“We met and went over what we wanted to put in the commercial, whether we wanted it to be funny or sexy – you know me on a bear skin rug – all different scenarios,” Bastress said.

Bastress explained to students that when starting an advertising campaign, there must be an ultimate goal in mind and to tailor the message according to who the viewers are.

“You always want to think of the user and tailor that message to fit for them,” Bastress said.

Bastress and Helmy described how the development of storyboards helps to visualize the commercial. Helmy said the use of storyboards is how a television commercial starts.

“Before you exert the energy and effort into filming the thing, you have some sort of plan as to what it’s going to look like,” Helmy said.

“It really helps with the vision of the commercial,” Bastress said.

Helmy explained that utilizing hashtags related to the proposal provided an interactive platform for viewers to participate.

“You want to evoke people to make some type of interaction; we knew what we needed to do before the commercial aired and ask, ‘what do I do after,’” Bastress said.

The post-commercial process included designing a website that displayed the ultimate end result: did she say yes? The website also included the reaction video. Bastress and Helmy utilized analytics to see who in San Antonio and the world was watching. Additionally, they sent press releases to local news outlets.

“You always have to think about the beginning and end,” Bastress said.

John Wilkinson, electronic media senior, said he enjoyed learning about the process of making a commercial.

“I thought it was interesting how they talked about story boarding; it was neat to see an example of that,” Wilkinson said.

Shortly after the commercial aired it went viral, debuting on the front pages of Yahoo and AOL as well as finding a place on BuzzFeed. The couple was also featured on Good Morning America.

Helmy said there are many messages to be learned from Bastress’ advertising campaign.

“There are very rare moments of more creative freedom than you would normally have in other situations. I think if you take those opportunities to capitalize on them, these are the kinds of things that happen from an advertising perspective,” Hemly said.

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