On the first floor of the College of Media & Communication, a door reads “Bullet Ad Team.” On the other side of the door, a small group of students work tirelessly on a yearlong advertising campaign for a client assigned to them by the American Advertising Federation. The hands-on experience of Ad Team is invaluable by itself, but the chance to present their work on a national stage is always on the line.
This year, the 2021-2022 Bullet Ad Team is headed to Nashville, Tennessee, for the National Student Advertising Competition. And it was no short road.
The process began in Fall 2021 when Ad Team received their client for the year, Meta Quest (formally known as Oculus). Meta Quest is a virtual reality headset that allows users to play immersive video games, enter digital social hubs, or even explore the world via Google Maps.
The students went to work preparing creative materials and messages, all the while envisioning their efforts coming to fruition at the district competition in the spring. As the students worked, Associate Professor and Chairperson for The Department of Advertising & Brand Strategy, Shannon Bichard, Ph.D., administered guidance as the faculty advisor for Ad Team.
“Our district is actually one of the most competitive in the country,” Bichard said. “If you don't get first place, it's very hard to get out of our district, whereas other districts don't have nearly as many strong schools.”
Good news: Bichard and Ad Team took first place at districts. The team was led by Creative Directors Hannah Boyd, a senior advertising major, and Grayson Roach, a senior advertising major.
Creative materials included a billboard with three-dimensional aspects and an interactive kiosk, which set the tone for a captivating 20-minute presentation. Bichard believes the tangible items made a large difference in Ad Team's appeal to judges.
“I feel like it's really important to put all your pieces around you,” Bichard said. “It's an advertising campaign, and those pieces are like advertising for your campaign the entire time you're up there.”
A first-place finish in one of the nation's toughest districts would suggest Ad Team's strategy paid off. However, the presentation itself is an arduous, painstaking process requiring much more than good visuals. And although 16 students had a hand on the Meta Quest campaign, only a handful could take the stage to present.
“Our pitch team was determined in representing nine months of everyone's work in the most effective and creative way,” Roach said. “The preparation really came down to the countless hours they spent memorizing and practicing the pitch. They were critical yet supportive of each other which pushed everyone to do their best.”
Boyd echoes similar admiration for the team's presenters.
“They stayed up in the CoMC building until 4 a.m. some nights writing the perfect pitch,” Boyd said. “They were up here so many weekends practicing it until perfection.”
Through their victory at districts, Ad Team automatically moved to the semifinals. Roughly 15 school from across the nation are invited to semifinals, where each team must record their original presentation and send it off to the judges.
Only eight teams are selected to take a stand on the national stage.
“We were up until 2 a.m. to get a perfect take, because you can only send in one take,” Bichard said. “After [the judges] watch the presentations, there is a live Q&A via Zoom in which the judges will talk to the students about their processes.”
Then, the waiting games began. With the National Student Advertising Competition set for June 3, Ad Team knew they would have an answer soon. After months of dedicated work — and a couple days of anxiety — the good news came down.
Ad Team is going to nationals.
“It is such an honor to make it this far in the competition,” Boyd said. “We are so excited to get to represent Texas Tech at the national level.”
The National Student Advertising Competition will take place Wednesday, June 3, where Ad Team will get to show off their immensely talented labors one last time. Winners will be announced June 4.