A team of students from Grand Valley State University finished fourth in the nation in the National Student Advertising Competition (NSAC). The annual competition is Ssponsored by the American Advertising Federation (AAF), which includes the industry’s top professionals. The NSAC is the premier college advertising competition that provides college students the real-world experience of creating a strategic advertising, marketing and media campaign for a corporate client. Students develop a marketing plan and then pitch their work to advertising professionals at the district, semi-final and national levels.
The group of Advertising and Public Relations students worked the entire academic year on a campaign for this year’s client, Adobe. The significant, hands-on project was completed in two courses, CAP 494 Agency Experience and CAP 495 Advertising/Public Relations Campaigns. Some students from other majors also participated.
The students had to pivot in the middle of the winter semester because of the coronavirus to work on the collaborative project online. But they persisted to win first place in the AAF District 6 and then win the semi-final round to advance with only 8 other universities to the national finals. There were 102 schools in 14 districts that participated through the course of the year-long competition.
“What stands out the most is their brilliant minds, can-do spirit, and ability to collaborate (even remotely) on an exceptionally complex business-to-business problem for a highly technical ad stack product for the iconic brand such as Adobe,” said Assistant Professor Robin Spring, who taught the classes and advises the NSAC team each year. “I am so proud of their creativity in solving real world problems and their ability to laugh in the face of adversity.”
It was the first time in the competition’s 46-year history that presentations and judging took place virtually. The client was impressed by the student’s persistence as well as the quality of their work.
“Sponsoring the NSAC for 2020 has been an amazing journey,” said Adam Morgan, Adobe’s Executive Creative Director in a news release from AAF. “COVID-19 didn’t stop the students from delivering great campaigns. We gave the students a complicated B2B technology project, and they came back with big ideas and great research that we can use today. Best of all, the students who actually dug into learning about the ad tech category are now more prepared than half the industry.”
GVSU was in good competition among the nine finalists, all of whom were larger schools. The overall winner was the University of Virginia, with second and third places going to Texas State University and the University of Missouri, respectively.
“We always say just to participate in the NSAC is of great value for students,” said Tim Penning, professor and coordinator of the Advertising and Public Relations program. “But this national finish is as significant as if our football team were invited to a Division I Bowl College Series game. For our students to compete among the best schools at the national level and to be judged favorably by the top ad industry professionals is a credit to the quality of our program. With this being the third time now for our students to make it to the finals, our national reputation is growing. ”