The University of Nevada, Reno’s Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) team placed first in their regional competition for the sixth time in the 11 years the University has participated in the contest, earning a spot in the national competition in Orlando, Fla., June 10-12.
“When we were announced the winners we all just screamed and jumped up and hugged,” said Kaitlin Godbey, a senior journalism major and team member, of the April 17 competition. “I haven’t been that happy in a long time.”
The team is composed of the 27 members of Journalism/Marketing 433. Their task was to create an advertising campaign for State Farm Insurance Company that changes the perception of the company in the eyes of 18-25 year olds. They also prepared a 20-minute presentation and a book profiling their proposal.
The students began researching the company and the public’s opinions of it during the fall 2009 semester. In the spring, they broke up into separate teams under headings such as public relations, social networking, creative and media. The students often put in more than 40 hours a week on the project, and in the days leading up to the competition worked in the journalism building until 6 a.m.
“It was more like a job than a class,” said Godbey, who is one of the five presenters on the team. “We all made the competition our priority.”
Bob Felten, associate journalism professor and faculty advisor for the team, said that some of that dedication stems from the tradition of excellence the University has established at the IMC competition.
“To know that we’ve won nationals before, and that we’ve regularly finished in the top 10, that’s a big motivator (for the students),” he said. “They want to live up to the teams that have come before.”
The team’s campaign, based on the tagline “State Farm’s experience, knowledge and reliability lets you live your life with less worry,” incorporated videos, flash animations, social marketing and even iPhone apps based on months of surveys and research.
“It’s the most beneficial class I’ve ever taken, because it gives you real-world experience,” said Godbey. “Now we know what it takes to form a good campaign.”
Nevada defeated teams from the University of California, Berkeley, San Jose State University, the University of San Francisco, California State University, Fresno and California State, Chico in the regional competition.
“We’re preparing these students to be the best professionals in the nation,” Felten said. “Throughout the competition, they’ve refused to accept ‘okay’ and pushed for exceptional.’”
Even under pressure, the team pushed for excellence. Two weeks before the deadline for their book, the creative team couldn’t help but feel that their idea was a little weak. The rest of the class was wary of undertaking an overhaul with so little time left, but the creative team asked for just seven hours to come up with something new. Early the next morning, Felten received a short version of the video that would later be used in the formal presentation.
“It gave me goose bumps,” he said.
According to Godbey, living by the rule “good isn’t good enough” is what brought the team a victory.
“We were just so dedicated,” she said. “It showed, and that’s why we won.”
The team is currently fundraising for money to send all the members to the national competition in Florida. If you would like to support them, please make checks out to the University of Nevada, Reno Foundation and mail them to Kristin Burgarello, Reynolds School of Journalism/MS 0310, Reno, Nevada 89557.