2015 Ad Team at NationalsFor the first time in 27 years, the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication’s (SOJC) Ad Team, Upstream, won the national championship, beating out more than 200 other college chapters that competed in the 2015 National Student Advertising Competition (NSAC).

In addition the national title, prizes were awarded by the NSAC research partners in recognition of exceptional work throughout the competition. AudienceSCAN awarded the University of Oregon for its superior use of market research and SOJC student, Brandon Mai, received the AAF District 7 Bolton-MacVicar Best Presenter Award.

“Our team was a family that cared about doing the best work for ourselves and each other,” says Mai. “Coming into this competition in September, we kept the expectation that if we win or lose, this was a team none of us would trade. We knew that success would come in the form of doing the best work we could as a unit, not as individuals with lone agendas.”

Teamwork was the cornerstone for the winning team that collectively logged about 10,600 hours of hard work from the strategy, media, and creative teams.

Guidance came from multiple sources. David Koranda led the team as faculty advisor throughout the competition and instructor Mark Lewis, who passed away last December, left a lasting impression with the students on the team.

“He told us that in order to believe in what we present, when we get nervous and discouraged, we should ‘find the angel in the room.’ Finding that angel helps ground yourself, knowing that there was an individual in the audience who was rooting for you,” Mai says. “In the last class of the Presentations course, he promised that, if in our life we ever had trouble finding one, he would always be the angel in the room for any of us. And at the final pitch in the national competition, I swear I could see somewhere in the middle of the crowd, a bright and joyous man smiling at us, feeling so incredibly proud of us.”

The 2015 sponsor, Pizza Hut, provided a case study outlining the company’s campaign objective, the history of its product and its current advertising situation. The case study reflected a real-world situation facing the company. Students were then challenged to research the product and its competition, identify potential problem areas and collaborate to develop a comprehensive campaign that includes creative executions, media placement, public relations, special events and various other promotional tools that speak to the target audience.

“The students did a fantastic job of creatively solving a business problem for Pizza Hut. It was challenging since most consumers didn’t think they had a problem connected with the way they order pizza,” says David Koranda, SOJC senior instructor and Ad Team advisor. ” The students honed their skills in research, strategy, creative, media and presenting that will help set the tone for long and successful careers. I’m proud of them for digging deep and putting in the time, thought and effort needed to develop what they did. The students and I are deeply appreciative for the opportunity provided by Pizza Hut and the AAF.”

“The advertising landscape has changed drastically since 1997,” Constance Cannon Frazier, Chief Operating Officer of the American Advertising Federation said in a news release. “Millennials are the digital generation and the NSAC is a unique opportunity for iconic brands, such as Pizza Hut, to benefit from their understanding and innovative application of social media to brand and convey messages. For students, the NSAC provides a practical environment to apply their research, media, graphic, promotional and interpersonal knowledge to an authentic situation. Each year, as we take a look at the future of advertising, we are more amazed at the quality and comprehension of the solutions the students propose to solve the client’s marketing challenge.”

Interview with Ad Team

Watch an interview with the 2015 NSAC Winners.

Story by Amy Pinkston.