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Miller Brewing Company added a new partner to the 20th anniversary of its New Year’s Eve Free Rides Program by "tapping" MIAD’s advanced Communication Design students to design the bus wraps and signage promoting the project.

Mayor Tom Barrett, standing next to a winning bus wrap design by Jason Smith, congratulates Miller Brewing and its partners on the 20th anniversary of the New Year’s Eve Free Rides Program.

The winning design concepts, by Jason Loomis and Jason Smith, are seen on buses around Milwaukee and Waukesha counties. In addition to MIAD, the Miller Free Rides program partners with the Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) and Waukesha Metro to provide free rides beginning on New Year’s Eve that extend until as late as 4 a.m. on New Year’s Day.

Loomis’ and Smith’s designs were selected as part of a competitive course assignment judged by a team from Miller that included Michael T. Jones, senior vice president-general counsel and secretary, and Diane Wagner, manager of alcohol responsibility.

At a luncheon celebrating the Free Rides program launch, Kim Marotta, senior director of corporate social responsibility, described the new partnership with MIAD as a "fabulous and natural addition of talent" that, based on the quality of the student work, resulted in the need to select two winning designs instead of one.

Jason Loomis stands next to his winning Miller Free Rides bus wrap design.

Marotta also presented to MIAD President Neil Hoffman a $6,000 donation to support MIAD scholarships.

The Miller/MIAD partnership was conducted in "Identity Design and Environmental Graphics," taught by Assistant Professor of Communication Design Phil Belair. It encompassed brand analysis, concepting and critiques through final presentation to Miller last month. All participating students were 21 years of age or older.

"The collaboration with a major corporation like Miller Brewing is a wonderful addition to our Communication Design curriculum," said Belair. "The ability to do work for a cause that may help to save lives is not only gratifying but also significant in exemplifying the impact of graphic design. In addition, the project’s focus on ‘Responsibility’ was an added bonus that helped educate MIAD college students on this most prevalent issue among young adults."

Loomis said that the project "enabled him to use his creative talents for a good cause while providing additional exposure to real-world business needs."

Communication Design is one of MIAD’s largest B.F.A. majors. It includes the study of computer-based design, art and photo direction, typography, advertising, package design and design for electronic and interactive media.