Speaking from Experience

Katie Kordewick

UNC student Katie Kordewick explains an aspect of her team's advertising campaign for the National Student Advertising Competition during an on-campus presentation. Related: Photo slide show at end of story

According to University of Northern Colorado senior Katie Kordewick, the cross-disciplinary class she recently finished - and that was taught by an award-winning UNC professor - was "hands down the best class I've ever taken at UNC."

Kordewick was one of eight hand-picked students in the Advertising Campaigns class that's offered every spring semester by Monfort College of Business Professor of Marketing Vish Iyer, who recently received a Faculty Advisor Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Marketing Association's Collegiate Chapter Division.

Marketing, public relations/advertising and graphic design majors are invited to enroll in the course. Its goal is to create a complete integrated marketing campaign for the National Student Advertising Competition, offered through the American Advertising Federation.

This year, students were asked to develop a campaign for Glidden Paint. Schools competed by district, and district winners moved on to a national competition.

The class is designed to function just as an advertising agency does, with team members assigned roles that help shape strategies, develop goals and design plan books. This year, the team worked within a $10 million budget to address the client-defined target market.

The deadlines and pressures intrinsic to the class give students a taste of the real world in several different ways.

"Throwing eight people into a class and having them come together to create a real-life advertising campaign in four months really tests your sanity," Kordewick, management and marketing major, said. "The entire class was a roller coaster ride, but I wouldn't change the experience for anything."

Chris Rose, a senior marketing major, agreed. "The most valuable learning experience was just managing and working with different people and having them all work on a common goal."

The team met several hours each week outside of class, researching their market, creating videos, developing a tagline (they settled on "Glidden: We've Got You Colored") and putting together a presentation and plan book using Keynote and InDesign.

In April, the hours of work and rehearsal culminated in a trip to Tucson, Ariz., where they gave their 20-minute presentation to a group of judges, followed by a 10-minute question-and-answer session.

"The whole class felt real when we started traveling," Kordewick said. "It wasn't just working on a project anymore. I actually felt we were doing something of value and getting real world experience. The fact that Vish trusted us to make it to the airport, catch our flight, get to the hotel and rehearse still baffles me, but it was great to feel empowered."

They arrived well before the competition, which gave them time to not only practice, but to get nervous, as well.

"On Friday our practice did not go as well as we wanted," Rose said. "We were being too much like robots reading a script. This is where things got stressful. So Dr. V told us to get rid of the script and talk from the heart. Then we started to simplify things and talk more from the heart instead of memorizing a script."

Both students said that Iyer's guidance gave them plenty of room to work through problems and learn by doing.

"Everything in the Advertising Campaign class was hands-on and student-led," Kordewick said. "Vish gave us the tools we needed and it was up to us to come up with the entire campaign."

While they didn't place in the district competition, they did receive the "Best Promotion" award for their promotion ideas, which included their "Ugly Wall Contest" idea, part of their overall strategy to engage their market.

Iyer—who advises everyone at the beginning of the semester to "leave their egos at the door," said the team was well-prepared with an outstanding strategy.

"They really did very well with their strategy and really paid attention to the target market," he said. "I was proud of my kids."

"Vish reassured us that we did a wonderful job and it's not about winning, but what you put into the project and what you take out of it," Kordewick said. "The entire class was about the experience."

In addition to Kordewick and Rose, the UNC team included presenters Dylan Smith, Jacob Figgs and J.J. Wykstra, and non-presenters Emilie Nemchak, Carolyn O'Brien and Anna Brunn.

Related: Vish Iyer Receives Lifetime Achievement Award from American Marketing Association

- UNC News Service