Endicott's NSAC team competed against 94 other college teams nationwide and finished third—a testament to their hard work and enthusiasm. Pictured left to right are NSAC team members Alexis Reishus, Laurynn Bedard, Emily Schackart, and Lucas Michaud, all Class of 2021.
Few college competitions require more dedication and offer more career-launching rewards than the American Advertising Federation’s National Student Advertising Competition (NSAC).
In an incredible display of talent and hard work, the 2020-21 team from Endicott College—comprised of marketing communication/advertising majors Laurynn Bedard ’21, Lucas Michaud ’21, Alexis Reishus ’21, and Emily Schackart ’21—placed third in the country in this high-profile competition, which ran from June 3–4, 2021.
“The amount of creativity and problem-solving that takes place in this club and in this competition cannot be emulated anywhere else at Endicott.” —Laurynn Bedard ’21
After winning in their district and placing in a semi-final round, Endicott joined a final pool of eight that included Texas Christian University, University of California at Berkeley, University of Kentucky, and the University of Virginia. Finals judges included high-level branding and creative executives from Tinder, Snapchat, and Spotify.
An indication of the level of competition is one judge’s comment regarding the Endicott team’s work: “This is a professional level deck with strong strategic thinking. If this fell into our laps during an RFP, they’d win the business and receive only minimal edits and feedback before execution.”
Endicott’s record in six years of NSAC participation includes second place in 2020 and third place in 2018 district competition.
National placement “seemed like such a far-fetched, outrageous dream for us,” says Schackart. “For the most part, we were just four friends who genuinely enjoyed the agonizing, yet satisfying, process of creative problem solving, so much so that we did it four years in a row.”
Dedication & Creativity
To compete in NSAC, teams spend the entire academic year performing research, identifying insights, and developing a campaign and creative deliverables. Competitions consist of a fully-designed “plansbook” and presentation deck, as well as a fully-scripted and rehearsed 20-minute presentation, followed by a live Q&A with judges.
Each year, NSAC teams create a marketing and advertising plan for a specific corporate sponsor. This year the team spoke to their own demographic in a sassy pitch for Tinder; previous sponsors Endicott teams have worked with include Snapple, Tai Pei Frozen Food, Ocean Spray, Wienerschnitzel, and Adobe Experience Cloud.
Endicott’s NSAC Legacy
Since Endicott’s first participation in NSAC competition six years ago, the team advisors have been Professor of Communication Melissa Yang, Professor of Communication Sara Johnson Allen, and former Associate Director of Executive Communications & Major Publications Erin Hatch.
“This team understood instinctively not to fear risk. They understood that to speak authentically and vividly was the only way to go. And it paid off.” —Professor Sara Johnson Allen
“Endicott’s NSAC program was built by many students over the years, but especially some key leaders like Elizabeth (Manley) Morrill ’17, Ellen Dollard ’17, Maribeth Stent ’17, Caleigh Crocker ’18, Maria Alexandrou ’19, Elizabeth Pagliei ’19, Taryn Cary ’19, and Taylor Wildrick ’20. This year’s team learned from some of those creative people and built on their past experiences,” says Allen.
According to Michaud, NSAC is a community of like-minded, creative individuals that creates a bridge for networking and opportunities. Says Bedard, “You get this unique opportunity to write, research, problem-solve, be creative, and work as a team in a way that cannot be taught in the classroom.”
All agree that Endicott’s strength this year lay in a team that knew each other well. “We’ve seen each other at our best after nailing a tough pitch, and at our worst at 1 a.m. struggling to come up with ideas for a deadline,” says Schackart. “After four years, you learn a lot about each other, and you can’t fake that kind of natural chemistry in a pitch.”
Career-Launching Life Experience
Bedard is quick to emphasize that “competing in NSAC is a lot of work and a major time commitment.” But, she adds, it’s all incredibly rewarding and a key career-launching tool. “There are so many people in the public relations industry that know what NSAC is and the intensity of the work involved. Professional connections are everywhere when you enter this world.”
Reishus adds that, more than professional training, NSAC taught her personal lessons. “I learned to accept when I am not the best person in the room for a job, and even to celebrate it,” she says. “When I am the right person for the task, I learned to be confident in my ability. Most importantly, nothing is worth doing without passion. My role in these campaigns became passion projects, and that is what made the challenging times worth it."