June 9, 2008

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AOL Awards Ohio University First Place in 2008 AAF National Student Advertising Competition

Ohio University Honored During AAF National Conference in Atlanta


ATLANTA—The team of students from Ohio University was victorious today in the American Advertising Federation (AAF) 2008 National Student Advertising Competition (NSAC). This year, AOL challenged students to develop an integrated marketing campaign for AOL’s Instant Messenger service and its suite of social media products.

“I’d like to congratulate Ohio University for their exceptional creativity and business acumen with the AIM product campaign,” said Lynda Clarizio, executive vice president, AOL, and president, Platform-A. “We were very impressed with the keen marketing insights presented by all of the participants, and I’ve no doubt that these students will make fantastic contributions in their advertising careers.”

For approximately nine months, the students conducted primary research to study AOL’s target market, including media habits and competitors. The team from Ohio University focused their initial research on how adults ages 18–24 use the AOL Instant Messenger service and its competing social networking Web sites. From there, they were able to determine their objectives and strategies to ultimately design a campaign with the goal of increasing usage by 15 percent. The overall creative strategy for Ohio University’s campaign was to add tabs to the currently existing AOL buddy list. Each tab would link directly to a different Web site, representing the new facets they wanted to add to enhance AOL’s social media capabilities, i.e. a social networking site, music, etc.

Ohio University’s team is unique in that each team member represents different academic backgrounds and years in school. They also worked independently of university-funded advertising curriculum, and their entire NSAC campaign and experience was an extracurricular activity. In addition to campaign work, the students dedicated even more time to fundraising for their AAF college chapter, which funded their entire project.

One of the team’s advisers, Craig Davis, commented, “Having recently come from working in the advertising industry, I feel I can truly say the teamwork and work ethic of these students were exceptional.” Hong Cheng, another adviser said, “I really want to emphasize the enthusiasm and professionalism of the students, both throughout the months of competition and their presentations here at the conference. We are so proud of their effort over the last year.”

The AAF’s education services division annually coordinates the NSAC in cooperation with a major corporation that serves as the competition sponsor. The NSAC is unique in that it provides students with a superior educational experience, which prepares them for successful careers, and provides the sponsor with tangible, effective integrated marketing campaigns. The 2008 NSAC judges include the following representatives from AOL:

  • Amy Craig, principal product manager, AIM
  • Dave George, senior director of communications, AOL marketing and operations
  • Susan Kim, creative director, Advertising.com
  • Lisa Lausten, director, marketing, AOL
  • Kate Wulfing, vice president, marketing, AOL

The panel of judges chose Ohio University from the 17 finalists competing at the AAF National Conference 2008 in Atlanta. The second-, third- and fourth-place schools respectively are the Art Center Design College – Albuquerque, University of Virginia and Texas Christian University.

In addition, this year Getty Images presented the University of Virginia with the award for best use of imagery in a campaign. The team received a $1,500 grant, and each of the team’s presenters will receive a framed image from the Getty Images collection. Getty Images provided use of images for the teams, and their materials were featured in the winning campaign. Nielsen, SRDS Media Solutions and Experian Consumer Research, home of Simmons-the Voice of the American Consumer for Over 50 Years, were also 2008 NSAC partners.

The NSAC is considered the premier student advertising competition in the nation. The competition has essentially become the proving grounds for the 80,000 students who have participated over its 35-year history and an imperative for an increasing number of ad industry recruiters seeking new talent.

The following finalists represent 14 of the AAF’s 15 districts. Due to their size, AAF Districts 2 and 6 host two competitions and subsequently send two teams to the national finals.

2008 NSAC Finalists

District 1: Emerson College
District 2: The George Washington University
District 2: Hofstra University
District 3: University of Virginia
District 4: Florida State University
District 5: Ohio University
District 6: Columbia College
District 6: Indiana University
District 7: Louisiana State University
District 8: University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
District 9: Webster University
District 10: Texas State University – San Marcos
District 11: University of Oregon
District 12: The Art Center Design College – Albuquerque
District 14: University of Nevada – Reno
District 15: University of Southern California
Wild Card: Texas Christian University

The Ohio University presenters were Ryan Dease; Liz Follet; Lauren Miller; Katelyn Mooney and Victor Rasgaitis. The Ohio University faculty advisers were Hong Cheng and Craig Davis.

For more information on the NSAC, please visit www.aaf.org/nsac or contact Connie Frazier at cfrazier@aaf.org or at (202) 898-0089.

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The American Advertising Federation (AAF), headquartered in Washington, D.C., acts as the "Unifying Voice for Advertising." The AAF is the oldest national advertising trade association, representing 50,000 professionals in the advertising industry. The AAF has a national network of 200 ad clubs located in ad communities across the country. Through its 215 college chapters, the AAF provides 6,500 advertising students with real-world case studies and recruitment connections to corporate America. The AAF also has 130 blue-chip corporate members that are advertisers, agencies and media companies, comprising the nation's leading brands and corporations. For more information, visit the AAF's Web site at www.aaf.org.