Student earns top award in advertising contest

Megan Factor

Megan Factor, a graduate student in the Williamson College of Business Administration at Youngstown State University, received the Best Presenter award at the National Student Advertising Competition.

Factor, who graduated in May with a bachelor’s degree in Advertising and Public Relations, with a minor in Graphic Design, was selected by a panel of four industry professionals for her part in the YSU presentation team. Other student presenters from the YSU Ads Club were Anna Henkels, Jake Cole and Nick DelSignore.

The event, sponsored by the American Advertising Federation, hosted collegiate chapters from six universities in the district, which consists of chapters throughout Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia. This year’s corporate client was Ocean Spray, who tasked students with increasing household penetration and engagement with the brand among the millennial generation.

YSU Ads Club students spent months conducting research into the habits, similarities and preferences of millennials through accumulating secondary research from dozens of sources as well as conducting focus groups. They also took an in-depth look at other juice industry leaders to see how Ocean Spray measured up in terms of sales, brand awareness, equity and popularity among millennials. After many long hours and late nights, the students’ finalized campaign theme, research and refreshed graphics were compiled in a plans book that would become the final deliverable to AAF and the judges in Cleveland.

“We really put our all into this campaign and I think it’s something for each member of Ads Club to be proud of,” Factor said. “We acted like a real advertising agency with everything from a media buying department to graphic designers and we were able to produce campaign that was up to industry standards.”

The competition preparation was not confined to the halls of the Williamson College of Business Administration. A select group of Graphic Design students from the YSU College of Creative Arts and Communication worked with the business students to take the raw data of the campaign findings and bring it to life. This interdisciplinary approach is unique in that students were exposed to different ways of thinking and approaches to problem solving.

“In this industry, it’s all about telling a story, and I am so thankful that our advisor Michael Pontikos has been telling us this for years,” Factor said. “That’s what really set our presentation apart from the competition. We were not just flashing numbers on the screen and telling the judges what the return on investment would be. Instead, we created a compelling narrative that wove together our research with the human aspect of an advertising campaign in a way that brought our presentation to life. This award would mean nothing without acknowledging my fellow presenters’ incredible amount of dedication to this competition as well as the late nights and hours of research that turned our Ads Club into a family.”