By Stacey Packer (@stoce_packer)
The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh won second place at the 2019 National Student Advertising Competition (NSAC) in District 8 in Minneapolis last weekend. After eight weeks of research and creative thinking, the 15 students of the Strategic Campaigns in Advertising class developed a fully integrated advertising campaign. This year’s client was Wienerschnitzel, a national fast-food restaurant specializing in hot dogs.
Dr. Sara Hansen, chair and associate professor in the Department of Journalism, has taught the class in recent years and served as adviser for the campaigns team.
“What an exciting experience for our senior students to put their strategic and creative skills to work for a national advertising campaign,” Hansen said. “Winning second is an awesome achievement. But more importantly, this high-impact learning experience helps students get hands-on preparation for jobs. These experiences contribute to the 90% employment rate in the field for our recent graduates.”
Each spring, the American Advertising Federation leads the NSAC. The process begins with a case study and a marketing challenge from the client. From this information students are tasked with creating an advertising campaign that is the solution to the client’s problem. Before discovering the answer, almost a month of primary and secondary research is done. These insights, as well as research conducted by the Research in Strategic Communications and Advertising Media classes, is utilized to build the creative and media strategy. The campaign is then made into a plans book and pitched to judges the weekend of the competition.
One of the greatest benefits of the class is the professional skills and real-world experiences students gain, due to the structure of the class reflecting that of an advertising agency.
Creative Director and Project Manager Whitney Wender said “I learned how an agency works and how the different agency teams work together. It was really exciting seeing the agency process and creating a campaign from start to finish.”
Alex Goudy, lead graphic designer, discovered her future career path as a result of taking the course. “If there is anything that this class has brought me, it’s that it solidified my decision to pursue a career in advertising,” Goudy said. “It made me realize how much I truly enjoy being a part of the creative process. Nothing beats how great it feels to finish a product after hundreds of hours of hard work that you feel could be used as an actual campaign in the real world.”
Of the 15 students, four take on the role of presenting. The presenters must memorize a 20-minute pitch, which they deliver to a panel of judges.
“Originally I did not intend to present,” noted one of the presenters, Kelli Calkins. “But I am so thankful that I did. I was pushed outside of my comfort zone and gained an incredible amount of experience and confidence because of it. I have found a new passion in public speaking and hope to continue to use these transferable skills in my future career paths.”
The UW Oshkosh students competed in District Eight against five other universities. The competition included South Dakota State University and University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. UW Oshkosh is the only Wisconsin school to compete.