The University of Nevada, Reno Integrated Marketing Communication team, comprised of students from the Reynolds School of Journalism and the College of Business, placed in the American Advertising Federation’s National Student Advertising Competition District 14 competition, in Berkeley, Calif., April 11.
“Our team presented an aggressive, edgy creative idea and had research to support everything they recommended,” Reynolds School strategic communications professor and team mentor Bob Felten said. “The team members also knew their approach was risky, but believed it was needed to reach the difficult-to-achieve client objectives. The judges seemed to appreciate the idea, but in the end selected a less edgy concept and plan developed by San Jose State.”
The annual competition poses a marketing communications challenge by a national client. This year’s corporate client, Pizza Hut, challenged competition teams to achieve three goals: position Pizza Hut as the top choice for customers who order digitally; provide the greatest digital ordering experience in the category; and achieve the goal of having 75 percent of all orders be placed online and on mobile devices by the end of 2015.
IMC students researched consumer habits and previous budgets and tactics implemented by Pizza Hut. The Nevada team identified their target audience as millennials, and prepared a written plan and a 20-minute presentation for a panel of judges at the district competition.
Based on the team’s research, they knew millennials would respond to character-based humor, so the team created the personality “Rick Drizzle” to deliver their “Pizza Service Announcements.” These “PSA’s” were included in a sample video commercial in their presentation. The team also developed a rewards system and pizza delivery tracker, using a symbol they called the “Hut Rod” – think a pizza delivery car that looks like a hot rod with a Pizza Hut roof.
“We wanted [the campaign] to have a philanthropic angle and decided to appeal to the audience through the cause of cyber-bullying,” IMC media-buying director and Reynolds School senior Ryan Kelly said. The team recommended Pizza Hut connect with the national non-profit organization Stomp Out Bullying which aims to prevent cyber-bullying. The team felt aligning with Stomp Out Bullying would lead to increased brand awareness among the millennial audience and provide millennials with an opportunity to share their stories through the Pizza Hut mobile app or website.
The presenters from the Nevada IMC team were Reynolds School students Spenser Blank, Ginny Allen, Daniel Coffey, Lindsey Fullerton and Tony Castaneda.
“IMC showed me how much hard work goes into building an integrated campaign,” Allen said. “It was challenging to make all the pieces fit together and make sense, but going through that process was such a valuable exercise.”
“The commitment the students show is extraordinary,” Felten said. “They stayed up late, got up early, gave up spring break to meet deadlines and refused to settle. There’s a lot to admire in the way these students performed.”
San Jose State University placed first and the University of California, Berkeley placed third. The University of San Francisco and Fresno State University also competed.
“Even though we didn’t win, we put forth 100 percent effort to design a special campaign we all loved,” Allen said. “I’m so thankful for the experience, friendships, and for Bob. Despite it completely taking over my life, I am sad it is over. I love this team.”