Simmons Students Place Third in National Advertising Competition

What do you teach at Simmons?

Presently, I teach the following undergraduate courses: Beyond Advertising (co-teach the National Student Ad Competition two-course sequence) and Why We Buy? Creating Brand Value and Marketing Research. At the graduate level, Marketing Research & Design, Consumer Psychology & Online Behavior, Research Management and Integrated Marketing Communication and Quantitative Analysis.

I am also the advisor for the Simmons American Advertising Federation student chapter (National Student Ad Competition organization); Alpha Delta Sigma Honor Society advisor, which is the oldest advertising honor society in the United Sates; and the American Marketing Association student chapter.

What's your favorite class to teach?

This is a challenging and intriguing question. I would say that Consumer Psychology and Behavior is my favorite class. Understanding consumerism from cognitive, emotional and behavioral perspectives is important both as a for-profit or non-profit marketer and as a consumer. 

Marketing and consumer psychology and behavior is a fascinating area where students and practitioners who have a strong interest in psychology can apply it in the marketplace. This is especially relevant in the growing online and social media environments. Clearly, practitioners with a substantive understanding of the consumer are in demand and have opportunities for career advancement in a broad range of areas. 

Fill in the blank: When I'm not teaching I'm...

Recently, I signed a book contract to write a VERY user-friendly introductory statistics textbook. The book includes instructions for doing statistics using IBM’s SPSS, a stats software package. The book is designed for students new to statistics -- as well as industry practitioners -- who would use it as a reference guide to look-up specific procedures. I am also in the process of composing scripts in order to produce accompanying chapter videos.

Sometimes, I take a break from research and writing by painting in watercolors or pastels.

What's your favorite book?

Using Multivariate Statistics by Barbara Tabachnick and Linda Fidell is my favorite book; really, I’m not joking. In my opinion, these two women have written, by far, the best statistics book on the planet.

Fill in the blank: I love my students because...

Simmons students are the best in the world! They think out of the box in exciting ways and are open to new ideas. At the same time, they stand by their convictions, values, and beliefs -- all of which make them unique individuals.

What's the most exciting part of helping the team of students in the advertising competition?

First, I must say, that the 2015 Simmons National Student Ad Competition team is a remarkable group of young, energetic, bright and tenacious women. Their enthusiasm to compete and to learn and understand the client and campaign dynamics certainly had a contagion effect on me.

What kind of guidance do you give the students?

The client was Pizza Hut. The student teams were charged with developing an ad campaign designed to increase online Pizza Hut ordering. The Simmons campaign was called “The App for Your Appetite.” My focus this year was the media research and strategy and plan development. As we know, we can develop wonderful creative ads, but in order for them to be effective, they must be seen by the customer. Informed media planning assures message exposure. The students developed a working, interactive spreadsheet for various media outlets geared to their target market, 18-49 year old consumers. Informed by their research, the students created a spreadsheet which was “programmed” to calculate fixed and variable costs (including cost per thousand impressions), reach and gross impressions. With this tool, they developed a media plan that optimized reaching as many potential consumers as possible in a cost-effective manner. We met over a number of occasions fine-tuning the media plan.

Based on my experience with this competition over a number of years, I participated in a practice Q&A session with our team exposing them to the type of questions that judges may ask them. I also provided some editorial feedback on the plansbook.

Why should students get involved in projects like this?

I have had the privilege to organize a number of similar events throughout the years at Simmons. In the past, some of our clients have been NCIS (the actual agency), The Girls’ Club of Greater Boston, KaBloom Florists and AboutBlu, a multi-national Italian corporation. I first proposed the National Student Ad Competition to Dean Cathy Minehan. To her credit, she embraced this competition, hosting it at Simmons over the last three years. She continues to maintain her support.

This experience provides our students with a number of benefits:

  • Students collaborate and develop a communication campaign for a real client under real conditions and up against intense competition. They do this in a safe and educational environment under the guidance of expert faculty
  • Students have the opportunity to develop and hone their critical thinking skills. This competition is different every year with a new client who has similar but unique and different requirements—like the real world. 
  • Through this experience, students have the opportunity to assess if a career in advertising interests them.
  • Students develop an item, the plansbook, to be included in their portfolio, which represents a demonstrative competency. 
  • Placing in the competition is a resume line item, which certainly gives students a competitive edge by standing out as a unique achievement.
Each year our Simmons team improves. Last year we placed fourth. This year, we placed third. Next year, we intend to win first place and go to the national competition.

Top Photo: L-R front row: Holly Ledoux, Ainslee Gibbs, Elizabeth Rea-Wilson, Chanel Thomas, Lauren Contic

L-R back row: Sixx Lismann, Shae Riley, Nicole Allen, Rachel Otero, Maria Cervantes Gonzalez, Lyndlee Hayes, Anna Rausa, Tori Wenzel

Bottom Photos: Competition submission samples from the Simmons team.

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