Hard work ads up to award
The National Student Advertising Competition team from the Jack. J. Valenti School of Communication returns home from Tulsa, Okla. with first place in the district.
The competition was stiff, said advertising and creative writing junior Nicholas Pessarra, the Valenti Group’s creative director and presenter. He said he thought the other schools’ campaigns were strong and, while they felt confident in their campaign, the judges’ announcement made them anxious.
“The fact that we won still hasn’t sunk in. We had received a special recognition award from the judges prior to the announcement of the winners, which made us question whether or not we had placed,” Pessarra said.
“Half of us felt confident that we were first, while the other half were worried that we didn’t place at all.”
The goal was to create an entire ad campaign for Glidden paint for Wal-Mart stores. The students, who receive course credit, met semi-weekly and throughout Spring Break to create their campaign from scratch.
“We divided our agency into departments similar to a professional ad agency, including creative team, account planning team, plans book designer and the media team,” said advertising senior and account director Kelcey Kochner.
Larry Kelley and Rosario Laudicina, professors in the School of Communication, mentored the team, but the ideas and efforts stemmed from the students.
Kelley said in an email to his colleagues that he was proud of the team’s hard work.
“The quality of the competition is what makes this meaningful. We clearly outperformed some of the best schools in the country,” Kelley said.
The team aimed to do its best and differentiate itself from the 20 other teams.
“It’s tough to say what aspect of our campaign really set us above the rest,” Pessarra said. “Every team worked hard and produced some great work. We had some really tough competition, but in the end, I think it was our plans book that really helped us make an impression with the judges.”
As if the stiff competition and long hours working together weren’t challenging enough, the team had a feat getting over their nerves.
“The hardest part of the competition to overcome was our nerves,” Kochner said. “After all the hard work we put into this campaign, we hoped our ideas would be communicated to the judges well.”
The group has almost two months to fundraise and practice until they advance to the national competition, which is the first week of June in Phoenix.
“The presentation will largely be the same. Competition rules are strict, so although we received feedback from the judges, we can’t really change anything. However, the presenters will be practicing a lot over the next few months,” Pessarra said.
“It’s really bittersweet. I’m looking forward to the trip, but I know how much I’ll miss everyone once it’s over.”