This post was submitted by guest bloggers, Anna Ferrell and Anna Cooper, McIntire Class of 2018
Around Grounds, McIntire is well known for sending students to work on Wall Street. It prepares students for careers in consulting and accounting. But the Commerce School is also home to the Promotions class (COMM 4371, instructed by Professor Carrie Heilman). For both of us, “Promo” was one of the most rewarding experiences at UVA. For those who don’t know, Promo is an application-based, yearlong course for fourth-years that is open to any student at the University. There are two main functions of the class: learning everything there is to know about advertising and preparing for the National Student Advertising Competition. The competition is held by the American Advertising Federation and sponsored by a national client each year. The challenge this year was to create an integrated advertising campaign targeting millennials. Our client was Ocean Spray, a brand known for its juice, but often associated with older generations.
We spent months performing market research using interviews, focus groups, surveys, and even observing shoppers in grocery stores. Each step taught us what it takes to create a well-supported advertising campaign. Ultimately, we discovered something that is inherently true and unique about Ocean Spray. It is tied to the cranberry, and this tart flavor stands out in the juice aisle. Our creative team used this research insight to develop our big idea. After hours of bad ideas and a few too many Bodo’s Bagels, the Tart Takeover was born. Our hard work paid off when we took first place at the district competition, qualified for nationals, and eventually walked across the stage in Chicago to claim second place overall. In the end, we were truly proud of our idea and the hard work of our class.
Reflecting back, we gained so much more from “Promotions” than just a trophy. Every lecture and assignment set us up for the next step in our lives. In the job search, there were alumni in almost every industry who were willing to help. In interviews, companies were continuously impressed with the commitment and depth with which we tackled this challenge. The flexibility of the class allowed us to learn about every aspect of the advertising world, from media planning to video production. As we start our careers in New York and Richmond this fall, we have a better understanding of how everything comes together to create good advertising – something that we might not have appreciated without this class. We made lifelong friends along the way, and most importantly, we learned to “never settle.” We can confidently say that this experience has bettered prepared us for successful careers in advertising and marketing.