America’s arches are given a moment to shine, all thanks to Dashawn C. Austin and Noah Lourie, two promising talents from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School. Their innovative print ad campaign, “Second Favorite Arch,” creatively brought into focus some of America’s iconic arches while keeping McDonald’s famous golden arches in the mix. Their project was recently awarded Gold in the 2023 Graphis New Talent student competition, a fitting accolade for their inspired take on a classic symbol of strength. Their innovative advertising campaign explored more than the ubiquitous presence of McDonald’s golden arches. It paid homage to the arches’ structural strength and beauty in American culture and architecture. Let’s delve into this project’s genesis.
By: Noah Lourie
Do you know what the strongest structural shape is? It’s an arch because force is distributed equally across the entire form. Arches have been crucial to the structures we’ve built for thousands of years. If you look closely, you’ll see them all over our cities in doorways, under bridges, and throughout tunnels. They are also the key feature of some of the world’s most iconic structures, both manmade and natural; the Arc de Triomphe of Paris and its many replicas, the delicate arch in Utah, and the Gateway Arch in St. Louis.
Arches have also been crucial in building one of the most iconic brands in the world. McDonald’s golden arches are instantly recognizable, and they are absolutely everywhere. In the lower 48 American states, the average distance to a McDonald’s is just over three miles. In American cities with more than a million people, you are, on average, barely over a mile away from a McDonald’s at all times.
The problem with trying to make an advertising campaign that focuses on the golden arches is that they have already been used in so many incredible and creative ways. Dashawn Austin, my art director, and I were given just this assignment in our advertising creative track Portfolio III course taught by Professor Mel White at Syracuse University, S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.
While rattling around ideas for a campaign, we learned that arches are the strongest shape structurally. Jumping off this, we wanted to lean into the importance of arches other than our golden ones. From this came the idea for our print ads; highlight the other most iconic arches of America and give them the shine they deserve while still reminding everyone that the golden arches are a very, very close second favorite.
The “Second Favorite Arches” print ad campaign, which won Gold in the 2023 Graphis New Talent student competition, became a way for McDonald’s to celebrate all of the arches that have made America, including the ones of the golden variety. Each of the three print ads features a different famous arch: the Delicate Arch of Utah, the Gateway Arch of St. Louis, and the Washington Square Arch of New York City. McDonald’s golden arches are also featured in the ads to create the famous double arches. This visual solution emphasizes the iconic arch while reminding the viewer that McDonald’s is everpresent wherever these well-known structures are.
Every part of this campaign is meant to celebrate arches far beyond McDonald’s own golden arches. From iconic structures to tiny arches, “Second Favorite Arch” keeps both the strongest shape and McDonald’s at the center of the conversation.
Dashawn Austin (they/them) is a creative who pushes boundaries and creates conversations that foster growth and innovation. They recently graduated from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University. Native to Brooklyn, Dashawn has always had an appreciation for their borough’s culture and people, which serves as the fuel for their own ambitions and work. Taking multiple interests in art direction, design, creative marketing, and the digital world, they seek to utilize their abilities, skills, and empathy to create work that will leave a lasting impact.
Noah Lourie is a copywriter who recently graduated Summa Cum Laude from Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. He is currently an intern at EnergyBBDO in Chicago and has previously interned at SKDK, the Environmental Protection Agency, and multiple political campaigns in his home state of Georgia. Whether it’s academic essays about the potential of automation in creative advertising, articles for a non-profit about the effect of drought on internal conflict in Mozambique, or witty lines of copy for dog food ads, Noah never stops writing.