Advertising and Marketing Students Share the (Brand) Love at NSAC

Four females standing next to each other as they look at their phones

(l to r): Abby, Melinda, Brooke, Simone

April 30, 2021

How do you get young people on the cusp of adulthood to do more with a dating app that is best known for hookups?

That was the question facing a team of 21 St. John’s students at the annual National Student Advertising Competition (NSAC), which was held virtually on April 22 and 23. The team, consisting of 11 students from the Peter J. Tobin College of Business and 10 students from The Lesley H. and William L. Collins College of Professional Studies, finished second in its region for its Friday Night Life campaign for dating app Tinder. They finished behind a team from George Washington University, but ahead of teams from schools such as Ithaca College, Pace University, and Penn State University.

The presentation of the advertising campaign was the culmination of a two-semester long challenge sponsored by Tinder. After extensive research and analysis, the team decided to focus on a core audience of 18- and 19-year-olds. The idea was to launch an experiential campaign to turn this group from brand likers to brand lovers, and to increase activations from new and previous members. The team’s strategy was to “position Tinder as the app that lets you have a Friday night experience on any night of the week.”

Co-taught by Daniel Rubin, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Marketing at Tobin, and Neil Feinstein, Assistant Professor of Mass Communication at CCPS, the NSAC class assigns students to work on a project for a product chosen by the American Advertising Federation (AAF) and a corporate sponsor. The project requires students to engage in every aspect of a campaign, from planning and conception, through research and strategy, to planning and execution. The work culminates in a presentation at the AAF district competitions in the spring.

“I am incredibly proud of what this team was able to accomplish over the past two semesters, particularly given the challenging circumstances of COVID-19,” said Dr. Rubin. “They executed a comprehensive research agenda, using their consumer insights to develop a truly impressive strategy. Their data-driven approach to decision making was remarkable; from their market segmentation to their creative executions, everything this group did was brilliant. I am in awe of this team and how hard they worked to develop this professional-quality campaign.”

“The ability of this year’s team to analyze the research, find insights and turn them into a meaningful campaign was the key to this tremendous accomplishment,” said Prof. Feinstein, who js also the Director of the M.S. in Integrated Advertising Communications program at CCPS. “Second place is a testament to the intellect and creativity of St. John's students.”

The presenting team consisted of Melinda Acuna and Abigail Bencio from CCPS, and Simone Epperson and Brooke Holt from Tobin.