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WVU journalism students 'pitch' their way to advertising award

WVU team members

Fifteen West Virginia University P.I. Reed School of Journalism students recently won the Overall Best Presentation Team Award in a regional advertising competition.

The students traveled to Lexington, Ky., to participate in the American Advertising Federation competition against 11 other colleges and universities. The contest offers students a chance to compose a professional campaign for a real-world company.

A corporate sponsor outlines the history of its product and current advertising situation. Students then research the product and its competition, identify potential problem areas and devise an integrated communications campaign for the client. Finally, student teams “pitch” their campaigns to a panel of judges.

This year’s sponsor was AOL, a global leader in Web-based businesses. The campaign objective was to increase trial usage and awareness of AIM’s social network among 18- to 24-year-olds, primarily through viral and nontraditional advertising, with a $25 million budget.

WVU advertising professor Cathy Mezera served as the team’s faculty sponsor.

“I’m extremely proud of the team’s ideas and efforts,” she said. “They proposed a new, branded AOL portal called exclAIM, a promotional concert tour and street teams working across major U.S. campuses. They chose ADvocates as their agency name.”

WVU team members included Jessie Blackwell of Wheeling; Brian Cash of Matawan, N.J.; Coley Chacos of Riva, Md.; Chris Coscarelli of New Kensington, Pa.; Tabatha Duffy of Clarksburg; Lindsey Helfer of Glen Dale; Bryce Post of Eldersburg, Md.; Justin Raiten of Freehold Township, N.J.; Mallory Rhodes of Seaford, Del.; Keri Sams of Parkersburg; Danielle Schultz of Potomac Falls, Va.; Crista Short of Woodbridge, Va.; Kelsey Weigand of Pittsburgh; Ashlee Welch of Weirton; and Morgan Yates of Belle.

Presenters at the conference were Coscarelli, Helfer, Sams, Schultz and Yates. Helfer won the award for the Overall Best Presenter.

The competition is divided into 15 districts, each made up of one to five states. WVU is in District 5, which includes schools from Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia.

Other colleges competing included Western Kentucky University, Ohio University, Cleveland State University, Youngstown State University, Murray State University, Marietta College, John Carroll University, Xavier University, University of Kentucky, Mount Vernon Nazarene University and Marshall University.