It’s a match to remember. A University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media IMC team recently won second place in the District 7 American Advertising Federation National Student Advertising Competition.
The UM team created an integrated campaign for Tinder. The campaign challenged young adults to use Tinder by asking a simple question, “What are U thirsty for?”
“The campaign objective was to expand the perception of Tinder as predominately a ‘hook-up’ app and reposition it as a lifestyle app for 18 & 19-year-olds where any type of relationship is possible – finding a new friend, roommate, dinner/coffee companion, just someone to talk to, or hooking up,” said Christina Canty Sparks, instructional assistant professor of integrated marketing communications.
The National Student Advertising Competition (NSAC) is the premier college advertising competition that provides more than 2,000 college students the real-world experience of creating a strategic advertising/marketing/media campaign for a corporate client. Students develop a marketing plan and then pitch their work to advertising professionals at the district, semi-final and national levels.
The NSAC tasked AAF college chapter teams to develop an integrated marketing campaign in response to a real-world marketing challenge facing Tinder, according to a news release. Introduced on a college campus in 2012, Tinder has become an app popular with 18–24-year-old GenZers, who make up more than half of its members.
“As we think about the evolving landscape of how people meet and connect, our team wanted to put our brand in the hands of the generation really living it,” said Nicole Parlapiano, vice president of marketing-North America at Tinder, in a news release. “College students are uniquely impacted by the societal shifts resulting from the pandemic and are particularly qualified to advise on how advertisers should speak to them as their core audience. We’re excited to see how the NSAC students approach our business, and we want to support this generation as they build their careers and portfolios as marketers.”
Teams representing nearly 150 colleges and universities competed in district competitions in April and are eventually narrowed to the top eight national finalists. The finalists will pitch their campaign directly to Tinder to compete for the national title in June 2021.
UM students competing included Ty Brown, Yasmine Brown, Jamiesen Cobb, Kelly Corley, Taylor Dancer, Ella McIlvain, Tavia Moore, Natalie Pruitt, Margaret Rice, Sela Ricketts, Elyse Schneider, Taylor Smith, Jaznia Tate, Avery Watson and Jack Zook.
Memphis native Jamisen Cobb, 20, is an IMC sophomore minoring in business on a computer science track.
“As one of the youngest students in the class, this was a very eye-opening experience to me,” she said. “I was able to gain teamwork and future job experience. I was a part of the creative team where our responsibility was to design and execute campaigns and creative strategies to encourage our target audience of 18-19-year-olds to download Tinder.
“I would have to say my biggest takeaway was learning to work together on a high level. In this class, I can honestly say that I felt as if I was in the real world at a marketing job. Being that I am only a sophomore, I will definitely be taking this class again my junior and senior year. I would recommend this class to anyone looking for work experience in the marketing world.”
Knoxville native Natalie Pruitt, 21, is an IMC business major. Pruitt, Ricketts and Corley designed the campaign template and creative materials submitted for judging.
“I learned the importance of collaboration and teamwork,” she said. “It is so important in competitions like this to make sure you are doing your part to contribute to the team and pull your own weight. This makes the entire process move much smoother and creates a more impactful end result.”
Madison, Mississippi native Margaret Rice, 22, is an IMC major.
“The NSAC competition gave me my first realistic glance into what it looks like working for an agency,” she said. “Having to gather data, create, and present a campaign all in under 12 weeks was challenging, but so rewarding when the result was as successful as it was.”
Florence, Mississippi Kelly Corley, 20, is an IMC major and general business minor.
“I learned the value of teamwork and made great memories and new friends because of this competition,” she said.
Indianola native Yasmine Brown, 21, is a double major in IMC and public policy leadership with a double minor in general business and journalism.
“The biggest thing I learned from participating in the competition is the essence of teamwork and dedication,” she said. “I learned how to actively collaborate with my teammates and voice concerns or opinions I did not necessarily agree with to meet in the middle and create something unique, such as our campaign, ‘What Are U Thirsty For?’
“The competition required a lot of long, sleepless nights, but the team also found out that our most creative ideas came during those moments. Lastly, I found a new passion in life. I found something that I for sure would like to pursue as a career choice.
“This class/competition is definitely one of the most memorable experiences in all my time as an IMC student, and I will never forget the relationships I have made. Special “Thanks” to Professor Sparks for being the best teacher and a guiding light for my teammates and I during and outside of the competition.”
Madison Mississippi Taylor Dancer, 22, is an IMC major and general business major. Dancer competed last year on the Adobe campaign and again this year with Tinder. The ‘Thirsty’ campaign idea originated with her. She was also offered a position with Mad Genius Agency in Jackson, Mississippi upon graduation. She said the agency owner was very familiar with the AAF NSAC, and that was a key factor in her hiring process.
“I decided to compete in the National Student Advertising Competition again this year because I believe it gives students good agency-like experience,” Dancer said. “The competition taught me a lot about my strengths in this field and taught me how to work effectively on a team.
“Another reason I decided to compete in AAF is because I wanted to leave my mark on the university,” she said. “Whenever Professor Sparks said she wanted us to beat Alabama and LSU in this competition, I made this a personal goal as well. I want the IMC program here to stand out nationally because we have some talented professors and students that deserve more recognition.”
Midland, Texas Avery Watson, 23, is an IMC major with a business minor and a double emphasis in visual design and social media.
“Participating in this competition taught me how the process of creating a campaign can be challenging, yet extremely fulfilling,” Watson said. “After this competition, I feel better prepared to go out into the working world of advertising and marketing. I can confidently say this competition will help me be successful in my future endeavors.”
Jaznia Tate, 22, is an IMC major with a specialization in social media, public relations, fashion promotion in media and a minor in general business.
“I learned how fast past the marketing industry is and also what to expect when account planning and building campaigns,” she said. “It was a tedious and challenging competition course, but it was incredibly rewarding. I learned so much from this class that I know, in the future, will be helpful for me in my career endeavors.”
Tavia Moore was one of the presenters for the UM team. She was an integral part of developing and presenting the promotional and media plan.
Senior IMC major Ty Brown led the research for the campaign and was selected for the AAF 2021 Campus to Corporate Internship Program. The AAF partners with corporate members to create exclusive internship opportunities for exceptional AAF College Chapter members.
The program is intended to provide students with a real-world, hands-on experience, gain a deeper understanding of the advertising industry and provide top talent to our partner organizations. Students selected get to apply for competitive paid positions at top companies like Clear Channel Outdoor, Giant Spoon, Kindred, Leo Burnett, Ogilvy, OMD, RPA, Tinder and more.
“Tinder is a well-known brand to most all of our college students, and having to evaluate it from a business perspective (adds) a new and exciting challenge to their advertising curriculum,” said AAF President/CEO Steve Pacheco in a news release. “The opportunity to deeply engage with and pitch a campaign to a brand that millions of people use every day is not an experience these students can get outside of this program.”