Student advertising team finishes fourth in competition

A team of Penn State students finished fourth in the National Student Advertising Competition district competition that required the students to develop an integrated communications plan to combat dangerous overconsumption of alcohol by college students.

The Penn State team, named the "Nittany Group," organized at the start of the 2008-09 academic year and started conducting extensive research, leading to completion of the communications plan in the spring.

The group developed the insight that college students are prone to "alcohol myopia" and live in the moment, without recognizing the consequences of binge drinking. Building on that, the students used traditional and nontraditional media (Facebook, Twitter and iPhone, among others), a viral peer-to-peer social networking effort and various campus events to reach their target audience.

The campaign stressed self-responsibility and promoted personal empowerment using the campaign theme "It's on You" throughout all contact points.

Team members and presenters were: Christopher Agostini, Emily Carr, Rachel Freiberg, Ryan Martin and Daniel DeJesus Ramos--all students in the College of Communications. The entire class group consisted of 18 seniors and five juniors, and all of the students are members of the Donald W. Davis Penn State Chapter of the American Advertising Federation.

"This is a very difficult assignment, and we had many starts and stops throughout the year. In the end, I am very proud of the accomplishments of these students," said Ken Yednock, a senior lecturer in the College of Communications and AAF chapter adviser. "Their eyes were opened to the broader cultural context of this issue and they worked intelligently and creatively on the campaign.

"Our team presented its campaign in a most professional manner and with enthusiasm and appropriate Penn State pride. This competition is just one example of how we are helping Penn State advertising students prepare themselves for professional careers in the competitive and ever-changing advertising communication business."

The national client for the competition was The Century Council, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to fighting drunk driving and underage drinking, and promoting responsible decision making regarding the use of alcohol. According to The National Survey on Drug Use and Health, binge drinking, while having decreased slightly since the early 1990s, remains at a level of approximately 40 percent of college students nationally, thus presenting a huge cultural challenge for a social marketing campaign.

More than 210 schools in 15 districts around the country participated in the National Student Advertising Competition this year. The AAF District in which Penn State competes is comprised of 23 schools from New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Washington D.C.

The American Advertising Federation is a professional organization that represents the advertising industry and works with universities and educational groups through sponsored events such as the National Student Advertising Competition, and through multicultural efforts such as the Most Promising Minority Student Program.

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Last Updated May 11, 2009