LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 31, 2011) — The University of Kentucky's National Student Advertising Competition (NSAC) team placed second at the Regional Student Advertising Competition held in Lexington April 30. The team, made up of 17 Integrated Strategic Communication majors from the UK School of Journalism and Telecommunications, created and presented a $100 million national strategic communication campaign for JCPenney, targeted to women ages 25 to 34.
The competition, sponsored by the American Advertising Federation (AAF), challenges students to devise an advertising campaign for a real-world client. Each year, a corporate sponsor provides a case study outlining the history of its product and its current advertising situation. Students must then research the product and its competition, identify potential problem areas and devise an integrated communications campaign for the client. Each student team then "pitches" its campaign to a panel of judges.
"As the team's instructor, I was very proud of our students' achievement," said Mark Stuhlfaut, the team's faculty advisor. "Our team created a campaign that had a strong consumer insight that was based upon some excellent qualitative and quantitative research, which the judges really liked. The consumer insight was that all women want to feel confident, and this confidence is gained when they look their best."
The AAF is divided into 15 districts, each containing one to five states. Each district holds a competition in April. The winning team in each district and one wild card team then advances to compete on the national level at the AAF National Conference in June. Judging is conducted by professionals in the communications industry. More than 150 U.S. colleges and universities compete.
"We were all extremely excited about our second place finish, even though it was tough being so close to winning," said Colleen McCoy, a student on the NSAC team. "I was really proud of our presenters; they did a fantastic job in front of a full room."
The team included students from all four Integrated Strategic Communication tracks: management, public relations, creative and direct response. The team's campaign was themed, "Work it. Own it. Live it." Stuhlfaut said the campaign's creativity caught the judges' attention.
"Each person on our team had direct input that led to the success of our campaign, and the really neat thing about the project was that it allowed our individual talents to shine," McCoy said. "It was great to hear the compliments and positive reactions to our presentation."
While the students were prepared and eager to present, McCoy added that the experience also tested their nerves. "It was both nerve-racking and fun to present our ideas in front of professionals in the business," she said. "I think knowing that it was a 'real life' situation made us work even harder."