UNI panthers takes on big dogs
Coming in as an underdog in the National Student Advertising Competition in Kansas City, the University of Northern Iowa student chapter of the American Advertising Federation (AAF) outperformed, taking third place and besting prominent teams from larger institutions such as the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and University of Kansas in the competitive District 9 qualifiers.
UNI is the only institution in Iowa to field a team in District 9. The team of 28 students was tasked with developing a $25-million national campaign for hot dog retailer Wienerschnitzel. The company wanted teams to change the perception of the hot dog in the minds of the American consumer.
“We put in countless hours to make our campaign standout, and to walk away with third place is an honor,” said Megan Schwenneker, student and director of accounts of the team.
Josie Vaughn, Devin Bennish, Megan Schwenneker, Samuel King
The team pitched a national movement to “Get Dogged” and embrace the love of hot dogs many consumers have harbored since childhood. The campaign planned a massive guerrilla marketing push where major cities would be “dogged” by Wienerschnitzel advertising and event marketing.
The campaign was done as part of the coursework for advertising campaign development, offered by the marketing department at UNI and led by instructor Matthew Wilson. According to Wilson, the course is run as an advertising agency, with student managers supervising various departments, such as media, copywriters and creatives, within the class.
“This year’s challenge was seemingly impossible – to positively change deeply held perceptions of an iconic American food,” said Wilson said. “Our incredible students had to push themselves very hard and truly innovate in order to create their winning campaign.”
To make this campaign successful, students had to perform consumer research to discover insights that would help them build a messaging strategy in line with the client’s goals. They then had to collaboratively create all of the creative work and develop an integrated media plan to connect with the campaign’s target audience. Finally, students had to calculate results based on measurable data to evaluate campaign success.
After the development process, a group of students traveled to Kansas City to pitch their campaign to a panel of judges, which included a marketing manager from Wienerschnitzel.
“The competition was an absolute blast,” Schwenneker said. “The weeks leading up the campaign were truly telling of each team member—no matter what the task, everyone stepped up to help make the campaign great. From practically sleepless nights to practicing the pitch time and again, it was great to see the hard work pay off at the competition.”