Advertising students compete

By Christina Merced

A group of advertising students at the University are participating in a national competition this spring. The students are in a special projects class where they are creating a campaign for the Honda Fit Marketing Challenge under the instruction of Steve Hall, lecturer and director of career services for the advertising department.

The class is set up as an agency that has various departments, including research, creative, finance, public relations, and published reports and presentations. The students chose to call their agency 3IEvents because their slogan is “Ignite, Inspire, Impact.” The name was also chosen for the three “I”s in the word Illini, said Frank Vanderwall, Illini Media Company employee, agency coordinator and junior in Communications.

The four graduate and 44 undergraduate participants were chosen by Hall based on their resumes. The course requires no lectures or textbooks but gives students the opportunity to gain corporate experience. Hall acts as an advisor and gives students advice based on previous experiences from the Element challenge.

Competing schools will submit their agency’s portfolio in May. In June, Honda, the automobile company, and Rubin Postaer and Associates, its advertising agency, will select three schools with the highest scores, based on a 100-point scale, to present at Honda’s headquarters in Torrance, California, said Ariel de la Merced, senior analyst and project leader for Honda.

Michelle Mendelowitz, senior in Communications, public relations head and a former Illini Media employee and Vanderwall said they were excited about this project because it is a rare and fun opportunity, and it will help them get future jobs in the industry.

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    “When you go out to the job market, you need an edge now,” Mendelowitz said. “It just doesn’t cut it to say, ‘Well I graduated from this college.’ You have to have this type of hands-on experience.”

    Sarah Prettyman, EdVenture’s project coordinator and liaison between the students and the ad agency, said this experience would help the students in their job searches.

    “The hands-on learning that they get from this is priceless,” she said.

    The students are also given a budget of $2,500, which was provided by Honda. Although portions of the winning project may be used in Honda’s future marketing for the Fit, the students will not get paid.

    “The whole program is not for Honda to get advertising,” Prettyman said. “The whole experience is for Honda to see what this target wants, but most importantly for the students who are doing this to gain this real world experience.”

    The money will help pay for advertising space and giveaways at an April 12 event.

    “We can use (the money) at our discretion to make sure we implement and execute this campaign,” Medelwitcz said.

    Honda is collaborating with Rubin Postaer and Associates and EdVenture Partners, a company that connects other companies with schools, to host the challenge. Students from 17 schools across the nation can earn three academic credits while performing industry tasks to create a campaign for Honda’s new car, the Fit.

    “It’s really allowing the schools to bring education to life,” said de la Merced.

    Each school was chosen by Honda from a list of schools that are partnered with EdVenture. The University, which participated in the first marketing challenge for the Honda Element in 2003, was selected to compete again this year.

    “Honda really wanted to get back on this campus again,” Prettyman said.