Friday, March 29, 2013

University of Guelph Students Drive Home Winners in National Contest

GUELPH, Ontario March 28, 2013 - University of Guelph News Release - Two University of Guelph students walked into a Toronto advertising competition this week and drove away with brand new cars as Canada’s Next Top Ad Execs.

Marketing students Alyssa de Hoop (left in the photo) and Kennedy Crawford won the national competition, Canada’s Next Top Ad Exec, on March 26. Their proposed advertising campaign for the Chevrolet Equinox beat out entries from 113 teams from 41 schools, earning each Guelph student a red 2013 Chevrolet Cruz.

The annual contest held by McMaster University draws students from across the country. This year, teams developed a national advertising campaign, with a proposed budget of $5 to $7 million, to promote the Chevrolet Equinox. The first phase – an elevator pitch in January -- cut the field to 25 teams, and a strategy document round in February further narrowed the competition to the top 10.

Those finalists each had 30 minutes to pitch their plans to 22 judges in Toronto. Then, Kennedy and de Hoop had to wait.

“While we were confident in our campaign and presentation, when they didn’t call us up for second or third place, we began to become doubtful, because winning two cars was such an insane, wild, never-in-a-lifetime achievement,” said Crawford, a marketing management major. “This is the first car I have ever owned, so to be able to say that I won it is unbelievable. We feel so lucky, although we can assure you that hard work played a much more prominent role than luck.”

Despite the pressure of facing a panel of advertising professionals, de Hoop says she was ready to pitch their campaign.

“Before going on stage to present, Kennedy and I were extremely nervous,” said de Hoop, a studio arts major who is minoring in marketing. “However, once we started, we loosened up and grew comfortable with presenting. We based this campaign on logic and evidence so that there were no holes or gaps in our execution. We wanted to have an answer for everything.”

Best friends for 15 years, they credit the help of their Guelph business faculty.

“The faculty and teaching assistants were tremendous in supporting us,” said Crawford. “They met with us four or five times, allowed us to present to them our ideas, and did practice Q-and-A sessions.”

One of those supporters was Prof. Bharat Sud, Marketing and Consumer Studies.

“When they started practising, their ideas were wonderful, but their skills at presenting and answering questions were a bit raw,” he said. “But they went through multiple rounds of practice presentations and improved every time. They were confident of their strategy and willing to defend their thinking – so open-minded to suggestions and criticism but defending what they felt strongly about.

“I believe the analysis of numbers and target markets and in-depth understanding of consumer needs helped them focus in so specifically on their chosen target. They planned for marketing in various media, including TV, magazines and social media. It was a very thorough, well thought-out and carefully executed communications campaign.”

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