By: Ian Arthur (@Ian_CHILDonFIRE)
The National Student Advertising Competition (NSAC) is a yearly competition where teams of students create an advertising campaign for a real-life client. Teams are formed through university advertising clubs on a volunteer basis or they join NSAC as a semester or yearlong class offered at their university. UW Oshkosh, the only Wisconsin school participating in the District Eight competition, offers Strategic Campaigns in Advertising as a semester-long course in the journalism department. It is like a capstone class for the advertising emphasis. As part of the 2015 NSAC team, this process was long and exhausting. However, the experience was one of the most rewarding of my college career.
Spring semester started with NSAC students developing an agency name and designating individual roles. This year the agency name was Brand 44 North, in relation to the latitude of Oshkosh. The team consisted of nine individuals, along with the guidance and supervision of Dana Baumgart and Taylor Boerboom.
We were provided a case study for this year’s client, Pizza Hut. In past years the case study was fairly large, this year’s was five pages. It was just enough to give us an idea of what Pizza Hut wanted, along with a brief company history, without giving us much to build on. Nevertheless, we took on the challenge, and built our campaign from the ground up. We started by looking at the research done the previous semester by the Research 472 class. The research class spends the entire fall semester conducting primary research on the company and the industry for that upcoming spring’s competition.
The first task, which takes up most of the semester, is creating the plans book. The plans book is around 28 pages and includes industry overview, research, target audience, strategy, creative, budget, scheduling and more. For this campaign, we looked at the research and conducted some of our own, and realized that our target audience should be Millennials, ages 18-34. We then started defining what the core problem was for Pizza Hut.
Our team concluded that Millennials once had a strong connection with Pizza Hut in their childhood, but over time that connection was lost. We also realized that Millennials are extremely nostalgic, and if we could somehow connect Pizza Hut with Millennials’ pasts, we could re-form that lost connection. This gave birth to our tagline, “You have changed, so have we.” Once we had an idea of the problem and how to solve it, it was time to create the advertisements, where we were going to place them, and how much it would cost.
The process of creating the content that went into the plans book was long and tiresome. Our team would meet for six hours on Monday nights and then meet for work sessions during the week. When asked about the challenges of NSAC, student Erica Van Riper said, “The most challenging part of NSAC was staying motivated each week, especially when we started to stay really late.”
On Fridays we would meet for an hour or more to update one another on our progress. As we neared our deadline, we spent entire weekends cooped up in Sage Hall, working in groups and on our own. During these long hours we also got to know one another as individuals and create friendships. Student Holly Schneider said, “The most rewarding part of NSAC was developing relationships with each team member while working in a fast-paced environment; it felt like I was actually working in an ad agency.”
The last week had graphic designers Jake Spence and Nicole Kitzerow working to make sure everything got in the book. Finally, we submitted our book just in time to go on spring break. The relief would not last long though. When we returned from spring break it was time for the second portion of the class—the presentation (coming soon).