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National student advertising team wins mega-district competition

  • The NCAS team pictured after winning the American Advertising Federation's District 6 competition.

Posted on April 28, 2017

A collective of students, known as the GVSU National Student Advertising Competition (NSAC) team, recently took first place in a “mega-district” advertising campaign competition hosted by the American Advertising Federation.

“The NSAC challenge is experiential learning at its best,” said Robin Spring, NSAC team advisor and assistant professor of advertising and public relations. “This real-life campaign focuses on a national client and requires a high level of team collaboration, problem solving and critical thinking, all while competing against approximately 150 university teams nationwide.”

The team of 19 members consists of students majoring in not only advertising and public relations, but also film and video production and health communications. Together, the students created an advertising campaign to meet the objectives of national client Tai Pei frozen foods for the AAF’s District 6 competition on April 21.

The team worked on the project for two semesters by conducting research, developing strategies, producing tactics, creating a campaign plan book and a 20-minute presentation.

AAF’s District 6 is considered a “mega-district” due to the large number of collegiate teams competing from Michigan, Indiana and Illinois. The District 6 competition was divided into two tracks with Grand Valley’s team placing first in the Blue Track against 17 other Midwest universities, including Michigan State University, University of Michigan, Western Michigan University, Ball State and University of Illinois. 

“The work we have done over two semesters cannot be attributed to one person because where one team member may have been lacking, someone else excelled,” said Addison Wittry, a senior majoring in advertising and public relations who served as one of the NSAC team’s account executives. “NSAC has been the biggest learning opportunity for me while I’ve been at Grand Valley.”

This marks the third time Grand Valley students have won the district competition in the 10 years the university has competed.

“Simply having ‘NSAC’ on a resume sets students apart, let alone winning the ‘mega-district’ competition,” said Spring. “Professionals know that students who compete on this team are highly committed, motivated and talented. Students are often recruited right from the competition.”

Elizabeth Konen, a junior majoring in health communications who served as the NSAC team’s research director, said participating in the District 6 competition will give her a leg up when applying for future jobs.

“Since I was the research director, I now have experience working in different databases that many students either don’t have access to or have never used before,” Konen explained. “Without this experience, I wouldn’t have been exposed to the amazing side of advertising or these equally amazing people.”

Konen was also a member of the NSAC group’s presentation team, and won the Best Presenter Award.

The Grand Valley team will now compete in a semi-final competition on May 4. Only eight teams will move on to the finals at the AAF National Convention in June. The National Student Advertising Competition began in 1973, making it the oldest and largest student advertising competition in the United States.

NSAC team members include Wittry, Konen, Rachael Vruggink, 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