Undergraduate Blog

McIntire Team Scores First-Place Finish, Earns Best Research Award in American Advertising Federation’s 2016 National Student Advertising Competition

The team’s creative, carefully crafted “That’s the Stuff” campaign wins over judges and event sponsor, Snapple.

student winners of AAF competitionThe student team representing UVA’s McIntire School of Commerce earned a first-place finish, as well as the Best Research Award, in the American Advertising Federation’s National Student Advertising Competition, besting seven other finalist teams. Final-round presentations in the competition, which was sponsored by ready-to-drink tea and juice manufacturer Snapple, were held Sunday, June 5, at Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif. Results were announced Monday, June 6, at a gala luncheon event.

“I am incredibly proud of the accomplishments of this outstanding group of students,” says McIntire Marketing Professor Carrie Heilman, for whose “Promotions” class the students undertook the AAF competition challenge. “Not only did they come up with a powerful new brand identity for Snapple, but they also rolled up their sleeves and did a first-rate job on all the tough, behind-the-scenes work required to put together a truly comprehensive marketing campaign—everything from conducting high-quality market research; to really thinking through complex questions of messaging, distribution, partnerships, and geography; to pulling together a clear, comprehensive, and compelling strategic case; to tirelessly rehearsing and perfecting their presentation.”

The team’s victory caps nearly eight months of preparation, during which they scored top honors in regional and semifinal AAF events. In all, more than 150 student teams participated in the competition.

“Winning the AAF’s National Student Advertising Competition is a testament to the terrific teaching and leadership of Professor Heilman, as well as to McIntire’s outstanding student body and the tremendous investment that all of our faculty, staff, alumni, friends, and corporate partners make in their development,” says McIntire Dean Carl Zeithaml.

“We are all very proud of this enormous achievement, and offer our most enthusiastic congratulations to Professor Heilman and the entire ‘Promotions’ class.”

About the National Student Advertising Competition
Each year, the AAF partners with a major corporate client (this year, Snapple) to challenge college students across the country to develop an integrated marketing campaign for a specific product, service, or brand aimed at diverse target markets. The corporate sponsor provides a case study outlining the company’s campaign objective, the history of its product, and its current advertising situation. The case study reflects a real-world situation facing the company. Students must research the product and its competition, identify potential problem areas, and collaborate to devise a completely integrated marketing campaign for the client.

More than 100 years old, the American Advertising Federation (AAF) includes members across all disciplines and career levels in advertising. Representing all facets of the advertising industry, the organization bills itself as “the unifying voice for advertising.”
That’s the Stuff!

Challenged by corporate sponsor Snapple to revitalize the brand’s image—and boost its sales—in the increasingly competitive ready-to-drink tea and juice category, the McIntire team took a fresh tack. If Snapple couldn’t successfully compete on its health and all-natural claims (Snapple bottles are adorned with the tagline “made from the best stuff on earth,” a claim that today’s health-conscious consumers find dubious), why not find a way to leverage the very real qualities that in fact resonate with loyal Snapple drinkers as uniquely appealing?

Collecting more than 5,000 research impressions—including 4,000 surveys, 430 one-on-one interviews, 24 hours of in-store observation, and 15 focus groups, as well as employing cutting-edge “face-reader” technology—the team found that what loyal consumers really liked about Snapple was the delightful consumption experience resulting from its unique product equities: the pop of the cap, the surprising “real fact” printed inside each cap, the glass bottle, and the wide variety of fruit flavors.

“The students did a fantastic job of combining the very latest research technologies with tried-and-true research methods to gain superb insight into Snapple consumers,” Heilman says, noting that Noldus Information Technology provided the students with the face-reading technology and that Portland, Ore.-based Dialsmith helped with concept testing of the video spots by providing access to its trademarked Perception Analyzer software.

Identifying Snapple’s target customers as “everyday optimists”—the sort of folks who relish such day-to-day mini-victories as scoring a great parking spot, matching every sock after doing the laundry, and finding a $20 bill in their pocket—the team’s campaign sought to reposition the experience of drinking a Snapple as a similar little moment of delight: “That’s the stuff!”

“The ‘That’s the Stuff’ campaign puts the Snapple experience front and center, equates drinking a Snapple with a little moment, and allows the brand to own the moments that make life great,” the team explained in the strategy section of its written campaign case statement.

Bringing “That’s the Stuff” to Life
But the team didn’t just come up with a cleverly insightful new take on the Snapple brand and appeal; it also laid out a clear, detailed plan for executing its marketing strategy, including through traditional media outlets, point-of-sale promotions, regionally relevant experiential advertising, social and digital platforms, and partnerships with complementary brands and products. The team presented the judges with an array of creative marketing ideas, including witty TV and radio advertisements featuring “that’s the stuff” moments (e.g., getting back to the couch just as the commercials end and your TV show resumes), nifty printed coupons shaped like bookmarks, engaging point-of-sale ideas such as build-your-own six-pack Snapple displays and “sip sampler” drink dispensers, and geographically relevant interactive displays for America’s major metropolitan areas.

“The ‘That’s the Stuff’ campaign was a really smart and absolutely comprehensive plan for strategic market execution,” Heilman says. “The team’s understanding not only of the brand’s strength, but also of how to integrate today’s numerous and highly varied media outlets to consistently, appealingly convey that strength, was really impressive. The ‘That’s the Stuff’ campaign had all the right stuff, and I offer my heartiest congratulations to the team for this well-deserved win.”

Special thanks to Altria for its generous sponsorship of the “Promotions” class.

By Mary Summers Whittle

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