Ad Lab Before the District Competition

By EMILY LESZYK, ‘22, April 20, 2022

American Advertising Federation Student Competition takes place in-person post-COVID shutdown.

Ad Lab 2022

Ithaca College 2022 Ad Lab

Scott Hamula, Integrated Marketing Communications professor and chair of the  Department of Strategic Communication, discusses the excitement surrounding the AAF National Student Advertising Competition taking place in person for the first time since 2019.

Ithaca College has been participating in AAF’s National Student Advertising Competition for at least 40 years. Professor Scott Hamula heads the senior capstone class, Ad Lab, where students spend the semester developing a strategic advertising/media/marketing campaign for each year’s corporate client. The course is led by two student co-chairs who oversee each department followed by department chairs for creative, strategy, research, production, brand activation and media planning along with members working in each department.

The competition allows over 2,000 students nationwide to gain real-world experience in the marketing industry operating in three phases; districts, semi-finals and finals. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the competition has been operating virtually for the past two years.

Professor Hamula, who has been involved in the competition for 23 years, noted how different the dynamic of the competition has been as a result. “The judging sequence was different, and they didn’t have access to the same materials,” said Professor Hamula. “Rather than presenting in person, participating teams prerecorded and uploaded pitches for the judges to view. The Q&A was not as robust, giving teams less room to clarify certain components of their pitches.”

This year’s 2022 AAF Competition is being held in person once again with Ithaca College competing in the first portion of the competition at Pace University in New York City. “I am most looking forward to all the energy and excitement that comes with doing your spec presentation in person,” Professor Hamula said. “This also gives teams the opportunity to watch other participants pitches while attending the competition.”

This year’s client is the Meta Quest 2, a virtual reality headset. Students were tasked with making the Meta Quest 2 an essential item for 18- to 24-year-old college students. “I think the brief was challenging, but very straightforward and easy to understand,” Professor Hamula said. “The client was helpful by providing live Q&A sessions with participants. Every team got a Meta Quest 2, which is the only time a sponsor has provided colleges with the product the campaign is created for. This proved to be helpful for our research and creative.”

“The senior Ad Lab team has worked incredibly hard on their campaign for Meta Quest and are just  as excited to present at Pace University,” Professor Hamula said. “Regardless of the outcome, this is an amazing opportunity each student has been given to work as a marketing agency for a big-name client. Students also have had the chance to build upon teamwork, communication and time management skills.”