Each year, student members of The Agency extracurricular group put countless hours into creating a comprehensive advertising campaign for an assigned brand or product to compete in the annual National Student Advertising Competition (NSAC). The group manages the process from research to creative execution, producing a detailed, designed ‘Plans Book’ and presenting at a district competition. In 2018, Endicott College hosted the district competition and that same year the Endicott team placed third. Endicott senior communication major and The Agency member, Taylor Wildrick, wrote the account of the NSAC competition going online during the COVID-19 pandemic and how the student group has been stepping up to the challenge.
Over the past few weeks, the EC Agency team has had to overcome some radical changes to the structure of the annual NSAC. Each year, we compete against other schools in our region to create innovative integrated marketing communication campaigns for real clients, based on real business challenges.
We spend the academic year conducting secondary research, surveys, focus groups, and interviews to gather insights about the campaign and adapt them into a compelling strategy that informs our creative deliverables. Then we present our campaign and compete against other teams in front of a panel of industry professionals.
NSAC is an amazing opportunity to operate in conditions similar to a real advertising agency and to see how campaigns develop from start to finish. It’s also a great networking opportunity, as you are able to meet and interact with prominent industry professionals at the annual competition.
This year, however, we have faced major changes to the structure of our competition due to the COVID-19 epidemic. With the American Advertising Federation (AAF) moving our competition online, we have had to think of creative ways to keep on top of the project and see our campaign through to its finish. Our team has been hard at work drafting a detailed schedule and setting new deadlines for our presentation as we work to familiarize ourselves with the Zoom platform and adapt to our new competition format.
Since we are presenting online for the first time, we will be recording our presentation over Zoom and sending it to the judges beforehand. Although we will miss the big event that is the traditional NSAC District 1 competition, we’re still excited because it means we can put more focus on the creative elements of our presentation. Since we won’t be able to rely on our show presence and presenters’ body language as we have in the past, the actual presentation deck and visuals are even more important.
We are planning to implement more multimedia and video elements as the pressure is on to make the presentation as strong as possible. We’re also excited that we will be able to practice our presentation before submitting it to ensure everything runs smoothly and we do not have any of the slip-ups that often happen when presenting in person.
Although we have been dealt some curveballs, we are taking them in stride, and we look forward to perfecting our presentation and putting our best foot forward as we approach our first virtual competition on April 18.