Last-Minute Change Earns IC Victory

By Patrick Bohn ’05, June 10, 2019
Ad Lab team’s bold move secures top honors at the National Student Advertising Competition.

Last week, a team of nearly two dozen Ithaca College students took home first place in the American Advertising Federation's National Student Advertising Competition in Hollywood, Florida, thanks to a last-minute change in their strategy.

The challenge was to create a  strategic advertising, marketing and media campaign for Wienerschnitzel hot dogs. The team’s work started in the fall when assistant professor of strategic communication Lisa Farman had her Strategic Planning class begin researching the hot dog marketplace. But the team made a daring decision just a few weeks before they had to submit their plan that paved the way to victory.

“We re-wrote the entire plan, practically from scratch,” said Carlie McClinsey ’19, one of the team’s co-chairs and presenters. “We weren’t pumped about the direction we were going. Our creative team came up with a great new idea in two days, and we went ahead with it.”

Their idea? “Defend the Dog,” a courtroom concept where hot dogs were the defendants in a trial. “To us, hot dogs have always been a good food,” explained Connor Sheffield ’19, a member of the group’s creative team. “They’ve just been falsely accused of being a bad one. We set out to defend them.”

Executing the eleventh-hour pivot required a lot of additional work from the team, but Jessica Gallagher ’19, a member of the group’s media team, said that brought them closer together. “It’s fun doing the hard work at crunch time,” she said. “We really had a shared bonding experience due to all the late nights.”

The bold move paid off however, when the team heard their name called after Syracuse University, which finished third, and Liberty University, which came in second. “I was trying to keep my expectations reined in,” admitted Cole Puckett ’19, a member of the copywriting team. “When I heard our name, it was amazing.”

Scott Hamula, who was the advisor to the team, and is associate professor of integrated marketing communications and chair of the Department of Strategic Communication, said that this victory was a reflection of not just the dedicated team members, but the entire Roy H. Park School of Communications.

“Our group knows that when we need photos, we can reach out to cinema and photography students; when we need commercials shot, we can reach out to film students; and when we need post-production work, we can reach out to television-radio students,” Hamula said.

The victory came with a $3,500 cash prize, and was cause for celebration across campus. 

“I could not be more proud of our Ad Lab team and of professors Scott Hamula and Lisa Farman who provided an exceptional educational foundation and effective coaching to the students,” said Diane Gayeski, dean of the Park School.

President Shirley M. Collado also offered praise to the group on Instagram: “Warm congratulations to the team of Park School students who won the prestigious American Advertising Federation's National Student Advertising Competition. It’s a truly coveted award and an amazing accomplishment that reflects the talents, skills and perseverance of IC students. I’m so very proud of the Ad Lab team.”

For McClinsey, who sat in on one of Hamula’s Ad Lab classes when she was a senior in high school, the win marked a high point of her college career. “It’s a culmination of four years of work for all of us,” she said. “It was unbelievable.”

Meet the Team

Below is a listing of Ad Lab team members, and their roles:

Carlie McClinsey ’19
Adrian Baker ’19

Account Planning
Director: Shannon Gerety ’19
William Bunn ’19
Abriana Smith ’19

Creative (Art)
Director: Anna Ferrari ’19
James McAlister ’19
Lauren Kleiman ’19

Creative (Copy)
Director: Sophia Hadeka ’20
Connor Sheffield ’19
Nicolas Puckett ’19
Kerri Bonney ’19

Director: Lauren Carlson ’19 
Jessica Gallagher ’19
Nicole Domanski-Rudnik ’19
Connor Sheffield ’19

Director: Hayley Tarleton ’19
Elizabeth Oster ’20

Brand Activation
Director: Amanda StClair ’19
Sophia Scichilone ’19
Elise Littlefield ’19
Trang Kim ’19
Andrew Diamond ’19

Presenting Team
Carlie McClinsey ’19
Connor Sheffield ’19
Sophia Hadeka ’20
Amanda StClair ’19