May 07, 2012

Winners All: Schieffer-Neeley Collaboration Takes First Place

The student team from the Strategic Communications Ad Competition class, taught jointly by Stacy Landreth Grau, associate professor of professional practice in marketing,and Bill Johnson, instructor of strategic communication, won first place in the American Advertising Federation’s (AAF) National Student Ad Campaign competition for District 10, made up of Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Arkansas. They will compete against other first-place winners from AAF districts at the national competition in June.

“Our district is the toughest in the nation, and with this win, the TCU team is one of the top 16 in the country,” said Landreth Grau. “We could not be more excited. Our digital marketing strategy was top notch, and our team won best media plan. They nailed their presentation. I am so proud of them.”

 “All credit goes to the students,” said Johnson. “They were so resilient. We sent them back to the drawing board a few times and they would work until good became great. At district they made it look easy with a flawless presentation and impeccable plans book, but there were many late nights and lattes at the library powering the end product.”

The class is unique in its interdisciplinary collaboration between the Neeley School of Business and the Schieffer School of Journalism. Both professors preside over every class, which is made up of advertising majors from Schieffer (19 this year) and marketing majors from Neeley (eight this year). The class functions as an ad agency known as SNAP (Schieffer, Neeley and Partners). Students must apply to be admitted to the class, which is a capstone class for Schieffer students and an elective for Neeley students. For the 2011-12 school year, 52 students applied. Students apply for different roles according to their strengths and interests.


Each year the class receives a project from the AAF for a corporation with a real-world advertising challenge. This year’s case study focused on the Nissan brand as it relates to multicultural audiences. 

Nissan provided a history of its product and current advertising situation. Students researched the product and its competition, identified potential problems and developed a 32-page integrated communications campaign that included account planning, creative execution and a media plan.

The team pitched its campaign to a panel of judges at the AAF District 10 competition in Shreveport in April to win first place. Competing teams came from Angelo State, Hardin Simmons, Huston-Tillotson, Lamar, Oklahoma State, Sam Houston State, SMU, Stephen F. Austin, A&M-College Station, A&M-Kingsville, Texas State, Texas Tech, University of Central Oklahoma, University of Houston, UNT, OU, UT-Pan Am, University of Tulsa and West Texas A&M. The College Station team also will proceed to nationals.

The presenters were Eric Shulman (marketing), Louis Ducruet (marketing), Danielle Ayoub (strategic communication), Alyssa Lombardi (strategic communication) and Joanie Swearingen (strategic communication ).

Ayoub said, “The moment I delivered the last word of the presentation, I knew we had done something special. I did not know if we were going to win, but I knew I could walk away knowing we had given it our all. When the trophies were in hand later that night I immediately knew what set us apart. It was our work ethic, the fact that all members of the team pushed themselves to the limit to achieve perfection. It wasn't the aspects of our campaign that won, it was a team of fighters with a drive to achieve nothing but the best. I am proud to be a part of a group full of integrity that had the audacity to strive for the highest.”

The students were so focused on winning that they voluntarily added another weekly class meeting time to their curriculum. Throughout the process, they received feedback and help from a variety of professors from both Neeley and Schieffer.

Ducruet said their plan and presentation went through many drafts and do-overs, but on the day of the presentation, “we looked like an orchestra; perfectly coordinated and gracious. I could not have pictured a better scenario. One of the judges wrote "flawless" on her scorecard. Our advisors are also a big reason we won. They were hard but righteous critics, never easily dazzled. This helped us push and develop our ideas beyond what we thought was possible. This was clear after seeing the other schools’ presentations. It was obvious that we went more in depth with our strategy and analysis.”


Elaine Cole
PR Manager
Neeley School of Business at TCU