During the University's Integrated Marketing Communications competition presentation run-through, the Reynolds School's recruitment and retention coordinator Paul Mitchell left the students with one statement: "Bring that trophy home." Mitchell was referring to the large, bronze, rotating trophy given to the winning team at the regional contest of the American Advertising Federation's National Student Advertising Competition. The team did exactly what he encouraged by capturing first place April 19 in San Jose, Calif.
The team, comprised of 25 students from the Reynolds School of Journalism and the College of Business, is thrilled about the win. Since last fall, students have been working to develop a strategic integrated marketing communications campaign that would set them apart from the competition.
"On the first day of class, our team adviser Bob Felten expressed to us that 'great is not good enough,' and we always kept this motto in mind," said public relations senior Stephany Kirby, a member of the team. "After months of researching, brainstorming, late nights and early mornings, it was awesome to be rewarded with a first place win at districts."
Felten, assistant professor of advertising and public relations, has mentored the competition team through the past 14 years. The University's teams have won seven regional titles, placed among the top ten in the national competition three times and were the national champions in 2003.
"Each member of the team contributed to our campaign," Felten said. "I am very proud of the innovative marketing approach they took, the strategic, integrated plan they developed and the exceptional multimedia campaign they created."
The competition, sponsored by the American Advertising Federation, is divided into 15 districts, each with teams representing from one to five states. The University competed in District 14, comprised of California State University, Fresno; San Jose State University; University of California, Berkeley; University of San Francisco, and the University of Nevada, Reno.
This year, Glidden paint brand was the corporate client and provided schools with a unique challenge. Students had to research the product and its competition, identify potential problems and develop an integrated marketing communications campaign for the client. Each student team then had to "pitch" its campaign to a panel of judges. Glidden had previously released desired campaign objectives in its selected target markets, a detailed case study of its product history as well as an outline of their current advertising history to students to prepare for the competition.
As the team prepared their campaign, Felten constantly encouraged students to stay away from any strategic plan that could potentially be construed as cliché. Though the team's final plan was borderline risky, Felten reassured students that creating a unique advertising campaign is what determines success in the real-world advertising industry.
"We created a campaign that would relate the Glidden product to the consumer in an innovative way," said Jessie Fagundes, the team's account executive. "We were confident in our plan, and hopeful the judges would be able to see that our strategic campaign would make Glidden stand out from the competition."
Kirby said waking up in San Jose Friday morning felt surreal.
"We each made sure to look our best, and we all met up for breakfast before heading to the venue, feeling a sense of nerves we hadn't expected to feel," she said. "The day we had been waiting for had finally arrived."
The day was dedicated to the presentations by all five participating colleges, and the University's team viewed every other school's presentation. After each presentation, the University of Nevada, Reno team was the first group of students out the door. Unlike other schools' teams, the Nevada group huddled together for discussion. Felten would then lead a dialogue about the pros and cons of each presentation. Though students said nerves were high throughout the day, they did feel positive they would at the very least place in the top three.
As they announced the third and second place winners, San Jose State and Berkeley, Kirby said the team started to realize they had a chance.
"I looked at Bob who was grinning from ear to ear, as if they had already announced us the winners," Kirby said. "My heart was racing and I kept repeating 'come on, say it. Say the University of Nevada, Reno.' When they said 'University of Nevada, Reno for first place,' we started cheering and clapping for a few moments and then many of us began hugging each other and high fiving. It was awesome that the team was able to share a common victory, and I couldn't be more proud to share that victory with a group of such amazing people."
The next stop for the University's Integrated Marketing Communications team is nationals. The winning district teams and one "wild card" will all head to Phoenix, Ariz. June 5 through 8 to compete on the national level at the AAF ADmerica Conference.
Felten is determined to raise the funds necessary for every member of the team to attend nationals, which he believes is a phenomenal learning and networking experience his students deserve after all their hard work and big district win.
For more information or to donate to the team, call 775-784-6531.