RIT Ad/PR Majors Win Award at American Advertising Federation National Student Advertising District 2 Competition

Photos submitted by Juile Napieralski

American Advertising Federation (AAF) National Student Advertising District 2 Competition Team: (from left to right) Brandon Rothstein, Dave Sanders, Elijah Bowley, Jason Drexel.

Four advertising and public relations majors represented RIT in its debut at the annual American Advertising Federation (AAF) National Student Advertising District 2 Competition held April 20 in New York City. Recognized for skillfully answering the judges’ questions and leaving no question unanswered, the team won the “Best Q&A” award and placed fourth overall, beating out legacy participants.

Elijah Bowley ‘25, Jason Drexel ‘25, Brandon Rothstein ‘25, and Dave Sanders ‘25 prepared for the competition as part of the course COMM 322 Campaign Management and Planning, and while these four earned the opportunity to present at the conference, they represented the work of 17 students in total, including Scott Lenoce, Paige McKenna, Brandon Riley, Kiria Gonka, David Lieber, Jesse Hipwell, Ren Lesch, Zo Murray, Thomas Barstow, Natalie Faiola, Jeremy Stewart, Myren Bobryk-Ozaki, and Nicole Wright. 

Each year, the AAF competition brings together more than 2,000 college students to participate in a real-world experience of creating a strategic advertising/marketing/media campaign for a corporate client. 

This year’s client was Tide. Students were challenged to develop a campaign persuading 18- to 35-year-olds to use cold water when doing laundry, supporting the brand’s goal of making 75 percent of all loads washed on cold by 2030. 

RIT’s team developed its marketing plan and pitched their work to advertising professionals, competing against teams from Syracuse University, Penn State University, Temple University, George Washington University, Pace University, Ithaca College, and others.

“We didn’t know what to expect going into the competition since it was our first time, but we got to immediately apply what we learned in the Campaign Management and Planning course. This experience gave us insight into what we can expect in our future careers,” said Drexel, who served as lead strategist for the campaign.

In preparing for the competition, students in the class conducted market research and developed a strategy that included traditional and digital advertising, marketing, media, public relations, and social media to help Tide reach its goals. They collected ideas in a marketing plan that included creative execution, such as a one-minute commercial, graphic social media content, out-of-home advertising, and more. Then, the students prepared a 20-minute presentation that the four student representatives delivered during the competition. 

 "RIT students were sought out by AAF National Student Advertising Competition staff, faculty advisors, as well as the competition judges representing the industry, who offered compliments on RIT's impressive debut at the competition,” said Julie Napieralski, School of Communication senior lecturer and instructor of COMM 322.

RIT’s participation in the competition was supported by several RIT faculty and departments, including Napieralski; Principal Lecturer Kari Cameron; the Expressive Communication Center; and several other faculty from the School. Additionally support for travel and participation expenses came from RIT Career Services, the RIT School of Communication David Brooks Advertising and Public Relations Fund, and the Greater Rochester AAF chapter. 

RIT’s bachelor’s degree in advertising and public relations prepares students for dynamic careers in an industry projected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics for continued growth. The program teaches grads to apply the latest tools and techniques to analyze audiences, craft persuasive messages, and create compelling connections with the right audiences on the right platform, from websites, social media, and blogs to video and photography sites and news channels. Read more about the program>


COMM 322 students pose for a group photo in the classroom

The COMM 322 Campaign Management and Planning Class: (Left) Elijah Bowley, Jason Drexel, Brandon Rothstein, Scott Lenoce, Paige McKenna, Dave Sanders, Brandon Riley, Kiria Gonka, David Lieber, Jesse Hipwell, Ren Lesch, Zo Murray, Thomas Barstow, Natalie Faiola. (Front row): Jeremy Stewart, Myren Bobryk-Ozaki, Nicole Wright.

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