A School of Business advertising class placed fifth in a national competition last week after presenting an advertising campaign designed to combat underage drinking on college campuses.
The competition was hosted by the American Advertising Federation’s National Student Advertising Campaign. Contestants had 20 minutes to present their plan before a panel of judges and constructed a 32-page written plan.
Eighteen schools participated in the national competition, held in Crystal City, Va.. The GW class placed first at the district competition, which included schools from five other states.
“This was the culmination of all our work,” said 2009 graduate Andi Cross. “The whole process was so intense, and our hard work really paid off.”
The class of 14 began working on the project during the fall semester with their marketing professor, Dr. Lynda Maddox. She has taught the class for 20 years, and in the past five years, the GW teams have competed in the national competition three times.
The project was done in conjunction with the University’s advertising club, Capitol Advertising. Maddox said the camaraderie in the group this year made the team more successful.
“They really liked each other, and they worked as a team,” Maddox said. “This team maintained common respect and friendship that made them function as a team.”
Nationwide, students work on a different project every year chosen by AAF’s yearly sponsor. This year’s competition was sponsored by The Century Council, an organization that works to reduce drunk driving and underage drinking.
The theme for GW’s presentation was “You know. Be there.” The group’s research for the project included focus groups and surveys, which showed that 50 percent of students considered drinking less if a friend spoke to them about excessive alcohol consumption.
Kathryn Prescott, a 2009 graduate who helped present the proposal, said the campaign promotes friends looking out for each other so drinking on college campuses does not get out of hand.
The group proposed that message boards, a Web site, events, promotional gifts and corporate sponsorship be aimed in a friendly way at demographics that the group said were most likely to engage in unnecessary drinking, like those in Greek-letter life, athletes, and freshmen.
Maddox said ideas from different presentations are often later used in campaigns for the sponsor organization.
For the spring semester the class became its own advertising agency, Maddox said.
She said the course is not lecture based and has no exams. Instead, students present daily and then receive a critique. This format helps hone their communication skills.
“They learn advertising, marketing, critical thinking, management of information, oral communication and written communication,” Maddox said. “What they learn will stay with them and help them throughout their whole careers.”
Maddox, who competed in the same competition as a student at Pennsylvania State University, said she communicated with members of the class nearly 24 hours a day because in advertising the product “is never done and can always be better.”
“I love advertising and this was a good way to dive in and learn what I want to do,” Cross said.