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A group of students from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh is savoring a second place finish at the recent 2019 National Student Advertising Competition (NSAC) for District 8 at the University of Minnesota.

Members of the Strategic Campaigns in Advertising class at UW Oshkosh worked eight weeks to develop  a fully integrated advertising campaign for the competition. This year’s client was Wienerschnitzel, a national fast-food restaurant specializing in hot dogs.

Sara Steffes Hansen, chair and associate professor in the journalism department, has taught the class in recent years and served as adviser for the team.

“What an exciting experience for our senior students to put their strategic and creative skills to work for a national advertising campaign,” she said. “Winning second is an awesome achievement. But more importantly, this high-impact learning experience helps students get hands-on preparation for jobs. These experiences contribute to the 90-percent employment rate in the field for our recent graduates.”

Hansen said the strong finish happens at a time when leaders are considering ways to transition the advertising emphasis at UW Oshkosh into an advertising major. “We are excited about future possibilities for leadership and growth,” she said.

Real-world experience

Each spring, the American Advertising Federation leads the NSAC. The process begins with a case study and a marketing challenge from the client. From this information, students are tasked with creating an advertising campaign that is the solution to the client’s problem. Before discovering the answer, almost a month of primary and secondary research is done.

These insights, as well as research conducted by the Research in Strategic Communications and Advertising Media classes, is used to build the creative and media strategy.

The UW Oshkosh students competed against five other schools from outside Wisconsin, including South Dakota State University and University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.

The competition provides students with real-life advertising experience. Roles are similar to those in an actual advertising agency and include media director, creative director, graphic designer, project manager and account researcher.

Students learn new skills and to communicate and work as a team.

“I learned how an agency works and how the different agency teams work together,” said creative director and project manager Whitney Wender. “It was really exciting seeing the agency process and creating a campaign from start to finish.”

Of the 15 students, four take on the role of presenting. The presenters must memorize a 20-minute pitch, which they deliver to a panel of judges.

“Originally I did not intend to present,” noted one of the presenters, Kelli Calkins. “But I am so thankful that I did. I was pushed outside of my comfort zone and gained an incredible amount of experience and confidence because of it. I have found a new passion in public speaking and hope to continue to use these transferable skills in my future career paths.”

Alex Goudy, lead graphic designer, discovered her future career path as a result of taking the course.

“If there is anything that this class has brought me, it’s that it solidified my decision to pursue a career in advertising,” Goudy said. “It made me realize how much I truly enjoy being a part of the creative process. Nothing beats how great it feels to finish a product after hundreds of hours of hard work that you feel could be used as an actual campaign in the real world.”

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