Advertising students take second place in national competition

Contact: Alyssa Benson

WMU advertising students hold a sign while standing on a staircase.KALAMAZOO, Mich.—A team of Western Michigan University advertising and promotion students took home second place in their division in the District 6 American Advertising Federation's National Student Advertising Competition. This is the second year that WMU has taken second place in the competition.

WMU presenters were Kiana Bailey, of Warren, who won the competition’s Best Presenter Award; Sara Buckle, of Stevensville; Alex Gutierrez-Spencer, of Monroe; and David Hughey, of Vicksburg. The presenters were part of a 29-member student team.

"Our second-place finish is a testament to the outstanding education and experience that WMU and the advertising program offers," says Buckle, a presenter and director of strategy and consumer insights for the WMU team.

"I'm so thankful for the rest of our team. Through countless hours of practice and preparation, they continuously encouraged and uplifted me. I have them to thank for receiving this award," adds Bailey.

The competition

Each year a corporate sponsor provides a case study reflecting a real-world situation. Students must create an integrated advertising campaign for the client that is pitched to a panel of judges made up of professionals in the advertising industry and client representatives. Teams are judged on both presentation and original advertising collateral in the form of a plans book and creative executions.

This year's team developed an advertising campaign for Ocean Spray with the goal of enticing 24- to 35-year-olds to try Ocean Spray products. Using a variety of traditional and nontraditional consumer touch points and carrying the tagline "Dive In," the WMU team conducted extensive research into the 24-to-35-year-old market.

"This competition is an excellent way for students to learn about the advertising campaign process since it mirrors what they will do for a real client when they enter the advertising and promotion industry," says Dr. Karen M. Lancendorfer, associate professor of marketing and director of the advertising and promotion program. "The amount of talent on this team is incredible. They took a product that is not regularly consumed by millennials and made it relevant for a new audience."

The team

The WMU team was among 20 teams from universities across the region and placed higher than teams from Grand Valley State University, Southern Illinois University, Indiana University and Central Michigan University. It included advertising and promotion students in the major's capstone course. The competition serves as the course's final project.

Other non-presenting team members include:

  • Andrew Britton, of Troy
  • Cameron Britz, of Port Huron
  • Brenna Cooper, of Clarkston
  • Olivia Davis, of Odessa
  • Olyvea Davis, of Battle Creek
  • Nate Falzon, of Livonia
  • Steven Fischer, of Harrison Twp.
  • Abrahan Garcia, of Holland
  • Makeya Hoard, of Bronson
  • Sarah Homic, of Warren
  • Dustan Aiden Muir, of Brampton, Ontario
  • Bradley Murray, of Warren
  • Kelsey Neperud, of Saginaw
  • Stephen Peeples, of Redford
  • Myka Poffenberger, of New Buffalo
  • Jill Puckett, of Marshall
  • Yifeng Qiao, of Shanghai, China
  • Meghan Schulz, of Battle Creek
  • Kristen Simpson, of Canton
  • Justice Smith, of Muskegon
  • Melissa Summerfield, of Hartland
  • Conner Sweeney, of Jackson
  • Brittany Walton, of Ann Arbor
  • Kaitlyn Watson, of Jackson
  • Brennan Wieber, of Plainwell

WMU advertising and promotion program

As one of the premier programs in the country, the advertising and promotion major at WMU attracts creative, strategically minded students and provides them with an interactive education that ensures they will have the skills and knowledge necessary for success. Advertising and promotion faculty bring years of practical experience to the classroom and maintain close ties with industry through applied research and consulting.

For more information about the program, contact Dr. Karen Lancendorfer at (269) 387-5996 or

For more WMU news, arts and events, visit WMU News online.