A team of Iowa State advertising students received second-place honors in the 2017 Collegiate Effie Awards Pace Brand Challenge, a national competition in which students created integrated, multi-channel marketing campaigns for a real-world client.

Team members Michael Englund (‘17 advertising), Madison Ott (‘17 advertising) and Toni Ugolini (‘17 advertising) developed their “Taco-bout Family Night” campaign for Campbell Soup Company’s Pace brand. Participants were challenged to develop a plan that would encourage the target audience to try Pace and define the brand as the salsa of choice for Taco Night.

Team member Toni Ugolini is from Polk City.

Experienced advertising and marketing professionals of various disciplines evaluated qualifying entries from colleges around the country, and five semi-finalists were announced. The top two teams were invited to pitch their ideas in person on May 31.

Ott graduated in May and had a prior commitment, so returning seniors Englund and Ugolini presented the team’s family-focused ideas to the Pace brand team at the company headquarters in Camden, New Jersey.

Ugolini and Englund incorporated the judges’ feedback from the semifinalist round as they finalized their presentation in the weeks leading up to the trip. Tactics included in-store kiosks, a short video for social media, partnership ideas and a rewards program. They believe their extensive primary and secondary research, along with a follow-up survey to test the effectiveness of their ideas, helped their campaign stand out.

“We built our whole campaign around how it shouldn’t just be family dinner — it should be family night,” Ugolini said.

The students entered the competition as part the ADVRT 436 Advertising Portfolio Practicum class taught by Michael Wigton, a lecturer in the Greenlee School. The course provides opportunities for students to build their creative online portfolios. Developing the campaign — including a strategic brief and four-minute creative reel — for entry in one of the Collegiate Effie brand challenges is the biggest course assignment.

“I like this competition because it’s based on effectiveness, that’s where the word ‘Effie’ comes from,” Wigton said. “It’s not just creative.”

Wigton, who has won a North America Gold Effie for his own professional work, says the Effie Awards are well-respected and highly coveted by advertisers and agencies. He likes that the project allows students to put together all the skills they’ve learned in another capstone experience that they can put on their resumes and talk about in interviews.

“This is great experience because this is exactly what would happen at an agency from start to finish,” Wigton said. “The client gives you a challenge. You have to do research You talk about the problem, how you’re going to combat the problem and then come up with a creative campaign.”

As finalists, Ugolini and Englund said the experience of presenting to clients in a professional setting was invaluable and gives them confidence as they prepare for their future careers.