ISU Headlines

Idaho State University mass communication students compete in district advertising/PR competition in Boise

Posted April 21, 2010

A small but energetic team of Idaho State University mass communication students will travel to Boise this weekend, April 23-24, to compete in the annual National Student Advertising Competition sponsored by the American Advertising Federation.

The District XI competition over the past few years has been held in Portland, Spokane and Bend, Ore., Yakima, Wash., and other locations.  This year it will be at the Boise Centre on the Grove in Boise, which makes travel easier and less expensive for the Idaho teams, since four of the 10 universities involved in the district contest are in Idaho.

Group photo of ISU's contingent heading to Boise.“These students work so hard on the campaign strategy, execution and presentation that it’s a relief to have the travel itself be a bit more manageable,” said Martine Robinson Beachboard, associate professor of mass communication at Idaho State University. 

“It costs about $500 to $600 for each student to participate,” said Beachboard, who teaches advertising and public relations and is the faculty advisor for the ISU Advertising Federation.  “They work their fingers to the bone sitting at computers doing research, marketing communication strategy and creation of actual ads, and when they’re through with that they have to raise funds and pay out of pocket to go and compete.” 

The ISU team produced and mailed in 12 copies of its full-color, spiral-bound “campaign plans book” at the end of March and since then has been preparing for a 20-minute oral presentation called a “pitch.” 

Seven ISU students plan to make the trip to Boise.  Only five will actually present on stage for a maximum of 20 minutes.  One educational aspect of the event is that students get to see all the other teams’ advertising ideas.  This exposes them to a variety of perspectives and standards from big cities throughout the Northwest.

The ISU presenters will be:  Kayla Hopkin, Cassey Newbold, Travis Noyes, Parivasha Shrestha and Jeff Turk.

 “I’m really proud of them,” said Beachboard, who has taught at ISU since 2002.

Interest in the national contest is growing.  This year the competition team has a dozen students whose major emphases are in computer information systems, photography, graphics, television production and marketing as well as the traditional advertising and public relations study tracks.

“The interdisciplinary cooperation is great,” Beachboard said, “and it reflects the way the world really works.  Today’s graduates need to be able to do a bit of everything to be prepared to work in the marketing communication field.”

This year the ISU team will have an animated Flash presentation and three produced TV commercials.  “The technical aspects of the students’ work have definitely grown more sophisticated over the years,” Beachboard said.

Every year the AAF contracts with a national brand client to sponsor the event.  This year it’s State Farm Insurance.  The students’ assignment is to sell auto and renters’ insurance to a target consumer called the Young Independent.

“We’ve had great support from local State Farms agents – like Steve Roberts – and from area chapters of the AAF, notably the Pocatello Advertising Federation and the Idaho Advertising Federation,” Beachboard said.  “The ad agencies and media businesses in town are great too. We place interns with several of them every year.”

Nationwide about 150 universities send teams to their district events.

The presentations in Boise will take place all day Friday, April 23.  The awards banquet will be that evening.  On Saturday, students can examine one another’s plans books and meet with the judges for critiques.

 “The students work hard, practice thinking critically, strategically and creatively.  Then they spend money to show off their work.  And if they win at district, they get to raise more money to go to nationals,” Beachboard said.  “But they always come back thinking it was worth it and trying to recruit more students for the next year.”

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About Idaho State University

Idaho State University, a Carnegie-classified doctoral research institution founded in 1901, educates approximately 15,000 students per year in more than 280 programs. It is Idaho’s lead institution in health professions and medical education. Its seven colleges engage in a broad range of innovative research, teaching, and learning in the natural and physical sciences, humanities, performing and visual arts, education, engineering, business, pharmacy, and technology. Visit ISU today at www.isu.edu.