AdTeam campaigns for State Farm

Jennie Kushner

A group of UA students are putting their advertising skills to the test as they seek a national crown of their own.

Last year, the Ad Team lost a close race to New York University in the annual national competition hosted by the American Advertising Federation, ranking second in the nation.

This year, the team is planning a full ad campaign for insurance company State Farm.

The team will be entering their marketing campaign to the National Student Advertising Competition, hosted by the AAF, in April.

“As the University of Alabama’s Advertising Team, it is our sole responsibility to create a nationally recognized, $40 million dollar campaign for State Farm from the ground up,” said co-account executive Jason Brandt, a senior majoring in advertising. “We do our own research, develop our own creative plans, investigate media buys, and eventually present our campaign in front of a panel of professionals.”

“My biggest goal is always for students have a real-world experience of working on a national ad campaign,” said Teri Henley, the team’s adviser and an advertising and public relations instructor in the College of Communication and Information Sciences.  “This project is huge in magnitude and the ability to go through the whole process from start to finish teaches them so much and prepares them for their career.”

Student participation in focus groups and online surveys is obliging, said media planner Caroline Avent, a senior majoring in advertising.

“ Companies compete annually to be chosen by the AAF as the national campaign,” Avent said. “They pay $500,000, and they are allowed to use any ideas competing schools come up with, so the competition particularly benefits companies who are trying to reach our age group.”

State Farm is looking to target 18- to 25-year-olds, Avent said. She said most students are unaware of insurance until it’s a necessity.

“We are creating a fully integrated, branded campaign for State Farm,” said Lindsay Vick, a senior majoring in advertising who is the team’s research director. “This consists of dealing with all aspects of advertising such as media, creative, research and public relations.”

The group hopes to engage the target audience in a relevant way, Vick said. The team is currently conducting research, and through the course of the semester will be focusing on each aspect to create a complete campaign, she said.

The group encourages students to participate in a brief survey and have the chance to win an iTunes gift card, Avent said.

“So far, we have had 686 people participate in the survey and we would like to reach 2,000,” Avent said. “ It helps us to get a full understanding of our target audiences perceptions of auto insurance’s advertising. So far, we determined that a lot of people think the Progressive Insurance lady is annoying.”

The group consists of 16 advertising and public relations students who create media and advertising plans to compete at district and national levels, Avent said. If the Ad Team wins nationals in June, it will unlock many opportunities.

“If we win, that means we have the number one campaign in the nation. We may win money, but it allows us to stand out in our field,” Avent said. “It gives us real life experience. This gives us a full view of working with a full integrated campaign from point A to Z.”

Despite defeat last year, Century Council gave Alabama $75,000 to implement the group’s 2009 campaign, an effort focused on binge drinking, on campus.

“We know that our students can compete head-to-head with anyone in the country,” Henley said.  “Anytime you come…close to a national championship, you want to come back and show it wasn’t a one-time thing.”

“Last year, the NSAC client was the Century Council, a non-profit organization funded by a group of distillers,” said Brandt. “Our campaign won at the district level, and placed second in the national competition. Over 160 schools competed last year.”

To participate in the survey for the Ad Team, visit: cis.ua.edu/apr/AdTeamSurvey.