Equipped to Lead and Succeed

Advertising Students Reach the Finals at National Advertising Competition

A team of advertising seniors competed in the finals of this year’s National Student Advertising Competition. Only eight teams out of 96 competing universities progressed to the finals, held June 1-4 at ADMERICA in St. Louis, Missouri, as part of the American Advertising Awards (ADDYs).

USF placed sixth in the USA. This is the first time USF reached the finals.

This competition was a culmination of the yearlong Campaign Project course in which advertising juniors and seniors prepare an advertising campaign, from strategy through creative execution, for a specific client. This year the client was Indeed, the employment website.

Group of students pose in front of the St Louis arch

The American Advertising Federation (AAF) National Student Advertising Competition (NSAC), launched in 1973, is the country’s oldest student advertising competition. The AAF describes it thus: “Each year, a corporate sponsor (client) provides an assignment or case study outlining the history of its product and current challenge. The case study reflects a real-world marketing challenge. Students must research the product and its competition, identify potential problem areas, and devise a completely integrated campaign for the client. Each student team then pitches its campaign to a panel of judges. Judging is conducted by professionals in the advertising, marketing, and communications industry. Judges at the national level are selected from the client and their advertising agencies.”

A team of four presenters from the Class of 2023 represented USF: Jacqueline Cimino, Marta Arcones Franco, Sydney Sharp, and Emma Heizmann. One of the presenters, Jacqueline Cimino, walked away with the best presenter award at the district round. All team members faced questions from the judging panels throughout the competition.

"This competition has been demanding and I am so proud of the work that my team and I have been able to accomplish,” Cimino said. “I never expected to get a top presenter award in districts! I felt really surprised and honored.”

Another presenter, Marta Arcones Franco, added, “It was incredibly fulfilling to see an entire college career realized into one advertising campaign. We got to extend class material past the limits of our classroom. Being part of the NSAC competition allowed us to see the insights of an ad agency and function as one in our classroom. As a transfer student, I chose USF because of its amazing staff and faculty who have extensive industry experience — experience which was incredibly valuable when developing a campaign for the NSAC.”

Group of students pose sitting on stairs.

One of the team members, Madison Vincent, said, “It has been extremely rewarding to put everything we learned in the advertising program over the years together and come up with an incredible campaign our whole team is proud of. As a first-generation college student, attending ADMERICA to network with thousands of professionals is the best graduation gift I could have asked for.”

Professor Kate Charlton was the campaign’s capstone instructor and faculty advisor this year who mentored the students through the creation of their campaign. In reflection on the USF advertising program, Charlton said, “The advertising program was redesigned a few years ago in consultation with industry leaders. Our objective was to create a program that would better prepare students for success in industry. The number of our advertising majors who secure jobs in advertising upon graduation and now our advancement to the NSAC finals indicate that we have achieved our objective.”

Charlton said this about the competition: “The capstone class definitely tested each student’s ability to work together as a team and apply the knowledge they learned throughout the major. Like industry, there were a number of late nights and early mornings, which all the students and I were willing to commit to in order to realize our goal: to deliver a strategically sound creative campaign that would achieve the client’s objectives.”

Charlton recently left USF to take a job in the tech industry, so program director Professor Marthinus van Loggerenberg took the students to ADMERICA to compete. Twelve of the original class of 16 seniors attended the competition to not only participate but attend conference and recruiter sessions tailored to the students of the competing teams.