HAMMOND | A team of 31 Purdue University Calumet advertising and marketing students placed first in the finals of the National Student Advertising Competition on May 30 in Boca Raton, Fla.
The competition, hosted by the American Advertising Federation and sponsored by cosmetic company Mary Kay, featured 140 teams from various colleges and universities across the country. Teams were challenged to develop $10 million proposals for a national, fully-integrated marketing campaign for Mary Kay aimed at 18- to 25-year-old women.
After winning in district competition, a semi-final competition and advancing to the finals, student team member Christopher Magura said the team had little expectations going into the finals. Purdue Calumet’s team was not as renowned as some of the competing teams, so when the team was selected as champions, Magura and his teammates were pleasantly surprised.
“We went in thinking we were going to do good, but we didn’t think we would do that good,” Magura said. “Once we did win it, everyone’s mouth dropped. We were shocked to say the least.”
Student team member Nicole DiGiacomo said when Purdue Calumet was announced as the winner, it took the students a moment to register what had just happened.
“When we heard our name we think there was a good two seconds if just silence,” she said. “We couldn’t believe it.”
Each finalist team pitched its campaign in front of a group of Mary Kay senior marketing executives. Purdue Calumet’s “Beauty Goes Soul Deep” campaign focused primarily on pitching the importance of what Mary Kay does to relate to its customers values and less on the actual product, which the team believed helped make the pitch stand out.
The team was led by university marketing instructor Matt Hanson who directed and mentored the students throughout the competition. Hanson teaches Purdue Calumet’s Marketing 42900 Advertising Campaigns course, in which students prepared for the competition.
Under Hanson’s instruction, Purdue Calumet student teams have now advanced to the national competition finals in four of the past five years. DiGiacomo credited Hanson’s commitment to the team and putting in extra hours of preparation over class breaks for their success.
“He has honestly changed my life,” DiGiacomo said. “He’s so passionate about his students and the work that he does. If it wasn’t for him, we wouldn’t have gotten there. He has changed me as a person. He’s fueled the fire in me to truly reach for what I want and we wouldn’t have been there without him.”
Maugra believes the team’s success and the success of the program will have people rethinking about the strength of Purdue Calumet in the business field. This year’s team topped a finals field of eight schools including the Universities of California at Berkeley, North Carolina, Nebraska, Texas, Miami, Texas Tech, and Johnson and Wales University.
“We just put Purdue Calumet on the radar for advertising and essentially the program itself,” Magura said. “I think (the school is) going to start allocating more and more interest because we basically just opened their eyes to the advertising world.”