Students place in top 5 at national advertising competition

Grand Valley's NSAC team pictured at the AAF's ADMERICA national convention in June.
Grand Valley's NSAC team pictured at the AAF's ADMERICA national convention in June.
Image credit - Courtesy of Robin Spring

A team of 19 Grand Valley students recently bested more than 160 collegiate teams from around the U.S. to place in the top 5 in the American Advertising Federation’s National Student Advertising Competition (NSAC).

The series of three individual competitions, which took place over the course of three months, culminated at the AAF's ADMERICA national convention in June in New Orleans. During the final round of the competition, Grand Valley's NSAC team placed 4th among the eight finalists.

“This is the highest GVSU has ever placed in this competition,” said Robin Spring, NSAC team advisor and assistant professor of advertising and public relations. “The fact is, it’s not all about winning and losing — it’s how you play the game. In the end, the most important piece is that students are challenged, skills are honed, friendships are forged and lessons are learned that will last a lifetime.”

Grand Valley's NSAC team, consisting of advertising and public relations, film and video production and health communications majors, additionally won the “Best Use of Marketing Research” award.

The team’s journey to ADMERICA began in April after spending two semesters conducting research, developing strategies and producing tactics to create a campaign plan book and a 20-minute presentation. The goal was to meet the objectives of national client Tai Pei frozen foods.

The project was presented to a panel of judges during the AAF’s District 6 competition in April, and Grand Valley’s team placed first over 17 other Midwest universities, including Michigan State University, University of Michigan and University of Illinois. This marks the third time Grand Valley students have won the district competition in the 10 years the university has competed. The District 6 competition is considered a “mega-district” due to the large number of collegiate teams competing from Michigan, Indiana and Illinois.

The NSAC team then bested 18 teams during a semi-final competition in May, making the group one of only eight teams in the U.S. to move on to ADMERICA.

Rachael Vruggink, a senior majoring in advertising and public relations who served as one of two NSAC team leaders, said she experienced a diverse spectrum of emotions while presenting at the national competition as a member of the group’s presentation team.

“When you are standing on stage looking into the eyes of your teammates about to present 10 months of work, the feeling is indescribable,” she said. “You're doing everything you can to make them proud and not mess it up, but when we were finished and we were watching the award ceremony unfold, all I could think about was, ‘Wow, we're here.’ That sense of accomplishment and pride for the work my team and I did together felt incredible.”

NSAC team members for this year’s AAF competition cycle included Vruggink, Addison Wittry, Elizabeth Konen, James Sturtridge, Alex Rabideau, Joey Parks, Bethany Garcia, Hawra Al-Howaishy, Mari Behovitz, Kat Wille, Jaclyn Waligora, Kate Lewis, Madeline Schaefer, Theresa Wierenga, Alex Knaisel, Dan Goubert, Ari Zucker, Abbie Fielding and Ashley Barrett.

For more information about Grand Valley’s NSAC team, contact Robin Spring at [email protected].


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