Sweaty palms, jitters, nerves, adrenaline—in college they happen whether you’re about to step into an arena, onto a stage or into a make-or-break final. How well you manage and prepare for those quiet, anxious moments often determines success during the main event.

The Moment Before: That’s the title of this year’s CU Boulder Pac-12 commercial, which airs during each Buffaloes football game and on the Pac-12 Network. 

For the high-profile TV spot, the university asked its own advertising students to pitch ideas.

“We all had jitters because stakes were high, but I think I speak for everyone when I say we were prepared,” says Ben Rindels (Advert’17), one of the four students who pitched the concept as part of the Portfolio class offered by CMCI’s Department of Advertising, Public Relations and Media Design. 

“We took a step back to ask, ‘What are the moments that we enjoyed in college, and what are the best moments at CU,’” says team member Carolina Dangelo (Advert’17). 

During their research, the team watched other Pac-12 commercials and noticed that many of the ads were interchangeable. 

“If you look at most other colleges’ commercials, you can replace that college’s name with any other school,” says Jacob Glazier (Advert’17). “What they don’t really touch on is what makes them unique.”

The final product—produced by the university’s central communications office—was a universitywide collaboration, with a music student composing the score, and CU students and faculty members participating as actors.

The ad highlights parallels between the techniques athletes use to win games and the techniques students use to earn honors. 

“We wanted to create a metaphor about preparation, muscle memory and repetition—things students do that are like athletes,” says Rachel Wood (Advert’17).  

For these students, it was a touchdown right before graduation.