In April, University of Tulsa advertising students traveled to Fort Worth, Texas, to compete in the National Student Advertising Competition (NSAC). Their assignment was to create an advertising campaign for Tai Pei frozen Asian food that would target millennials. Using two budgets of $10 million and $15 million, they built brand awareness with a creative twist.
Media studies senior Adrianna Catalanotto explained, “Tai Pei would be a lifestyle brand that sells more than just food — it can sell an experience to consumers.”
Even a fortune cookie could not have anticipated the main attraction in their Tai Pei Saves the Day campaign: Tai Pei, a full-size dragon wagon would stop at 48 cities with the highest percentage of millennials. Along with a $25,000 donation to each city’s local food bank, the dragon-designed truck covered in scales would stop at the local Walmart and college campus. The dragon has video screens to showcase humorous videos of Tai Pei saving the day. From fixing a romantic date gone wrong to recreating historical moments with Amelia Earhart abandoning her piloting to eat Tai Pei, Tulsa’s advertising team told a story that was difficult to forget.
“Tai Pei as a brand was not recognizable,” Catalanotto said. Based on research, the team incorporated a philanthropic theme to the storyline, which is a strategic motivating factor for millennials. By working in a team environment, the students highlighted their strengths. “We each had something new and unique to bring to the table, and this allowed us to work diligently and effectively throughout the course of designing the final campaign,” Catalanotto said. Their team took seventh place out of 20 competitors.
Presenting the campaign to advertising professionals not only introduced TU students to potential employers, but also exposed them to feedback that can help prepare them for the workforce. The students pitched the campaign to Tulsa’s advertising community: Libby Bender from Cubic, Fred Fleishcher of U.S. Beef Corporation, Steve Turnbo of Schnake Turnbo Frank and many more.
“The single, most important reason for the ad program is to get TU students a job,”TU adjunct professor Bill Hinkle said. By consistently including Tulsa’s public relations and advertising community, the students already know potential employers.
“One of the best parts about the ad program is all the amazing people you get to meet. By the time you graduate, you’ve made so many connections. You feel really great about your job possibilities and confident in your skills,” said Grace LaFerry, a media studies student.
There are more than 200 TU graduates working in advertising, and Hinkle believes that because he doesn’t merely teach advertising from a book but uses practical experiences, they are prepared for the workforce.
Media studies senior Jonah Townsley, a presenter at the NSAC competition, said, “We could get an advertising job this minute.”
Hinkle created a TU Ad Program Advisory Board “comprised of virtually every mover and shaker in the industry.” With the help of the advisory board, Hinkle brings in nationally recognized advertisers to speak to his students and Tulsa professionals. From the creators of the two guys in a car Sonic commercial to the most interesting man in the world Dos Equis campaign, the Tulsa advertising industry and TU students enjoy speeches from world-renowned advertisers.
By networking with the professional advertising community, Hinkle teaches, “how to do this crazy job,” and quite possibly launch a career.