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Student Ad Campaign Showcasing J.C. Penny Fashion Wins National Advertising Competition

Members of UM’s award-winning advertising team include, from left, Alyssa Bernstein, Lindsay Guidos, Kevin Harrington, Kristin Gorney, Liz Agans, Jessica Stahl, Steven Levy, and Nick Marchese.

The University of Miami won first place at the highly competitive 2011 National Student Advertising Competition in San Diego, beating out 18 other colleges from around the country with a high-tech marketing and advertising campaign called “Dare to Be Impressed” for J.C. Penney.

The UM School of Communication team of 31 students created a brand identity makeover to convey to women ages 25-34 that J.C. Penney, or “JCP,” has the stylish, modern clothes they’re looking for.

The UM students created a tech-savvy campaign based on their own market research to change any perception that J.C. Penney clothes are outdated. Their presentation included print advertising, digital billboards, commercials, merchandising and more, all of which centered around the slogan “Dare to Be Impressed” to showcase J.C. Penney’s stores and women’s clothing in a new way.

As part of the campaign, UM students created everything from an iPad application that allows consumers to try on accessories to in-store virtual mannequins and interactive billboards that let customers choose which of J.C. Penney’s stylish merchandise the mannequins and models wear. The team also visited 24 J.C. Penney stores in 12 different states, coming up with ways to make the department stores brighter and showcase J.C. Penney’s fashionable clothes more prominently.

“I’ve never been so proud,” says Alyse Lancaster, director of UM’s Advertising Program in the School of Communication. “Our students presented their campaign flawlessly with poise, confidence, and conviction. For us to win at this level shows other schools, current and prospective students, and the advertising profession that the University of Miami’s advertising program is now ranked among the very best in the country.”

In April UM secured its place at the national competition by winning first place in the District Four NSAC competition against eight other Florida schools, including Florida State University, which had won the district competition eight of the previous nine years.

“Everything we learned in our classes prepared us for this,” said Collin O’Brien, 22, an advertising major who graduated in May. “What we did is what professionals do in the real world for their clients every day.”

The National NSAC win came with $4,500 in prize money for the UM School of Communication’s Advertising Program and an amazing experience for the UM team.

“All our hard work and late nights have paid off,” said Liz Agans, 22, an advertising major who graduated in May and was part of the NSAC presentation team. “Throughout this campaign, we really pushed ourselves to come up with 100 more ideas that were better than our first. I really think we will see some of those changes in J.C. Penney stores in the future.”

The National Student Advertising Competition (NSAC) is sponsored by the American Advertising Federation. Each year a corporate sponsor provides a case study outlining the history of its product and current advertising situation. Student teams identify potential problem areas and devise an integrated communications campaign. Each team “pitches” its campaign to a panel of four judges, including top executives from the corporate sponsor. This year Ruby Anik, senior vice president and director of brand marketing for J.C. Penney, was a judge. Annually, more than 150 colleges and universities nationwide take part in the NSAC challenges.


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