NSAC: A good overview of the great undertaking

I would wager that most of you are familiar at least by name with NSAC. Whether a current or past teacher mentioned it in passing, or you had friends who have been part of the team, the GVSU National Student Advertising Competition team has quite the reputation. 

In the spirit of the District competition coming to a close, let’s take a closer look at the team and see what it takes to be a part of this elite Laker advertising team, especially since we just placed first in our District competition and are advancing to semi-finals 😉 .

NSAC isn’t a club, and although it can feel like an internship, it is a class. Led by professor Robin Spring, around 20 students sign up for a full year immersive group project, competing against 150 other top advertising schools across the U.S.A. to come up with the best advertising campaign plans book and presentation by March 24th that they can.

Why? Each year, the American Advertising Federation, who makes NSAC possible, finds a national sponsor for the year’s competition to be that year’s client, including top brands like Coca-Cola, Ocean Spray, Adobe, and Pizza Hut. The clients give a case study and brand book to each school and ask them to come up with stellar advertising solutions to their situation. Those that might think this is some fake “mock project” will be surprised to learn that not only are schools using official and propriety numbers and branding direct from the CMO’s of the brand, but the teams that reach nationals present to judges sourced right from the brand. If Coke is the client, 8 lucky schools get to make their pitch to Coke at semi-finals, the event including networking opportunities with the brand and other top companies. When teams make it to nationals and win first place, they present to all the advertising professionals attending the national AAF conference, an excellent recruitment opportunity for the professionals, and even more so for the students!

A whole year though? Why so long?

The first 4 months are dedicated strictly to research. Hundreds of hours of interviews, focus groups and scouring secondary research is done to pinpoint key insights and the target audience. It is only in the second semester that the tactics are ideated and fleshed out, along with the plans book. While it is a long and sometimes grueling process, it is rewarding to the highest order. The final product is a highly professional, polished plans book, the result of radical collaboration and problem solving. 

Many ad professionals can’t recommend NSAC enough to students. While it is a long, hard year that is demanding of time and energy, it gives students extremely valuable skills like collaboration, commitment, critical thinking, problem solving; the list goes on. It is a wonderful teaser to life in the advertising industry, and is a great way to test your skills, push yourself, and most importantly, grow. There is no direct prize to the student besides a much better resume and network, yet the reward lies in the process, and the transformation into a team player and skilled advertiser throughout.

Working with 20 people for 400+ hours on one brand is no small feat. Yet as a member of this year’s team, I can say with clarity that it is worth it. Using these college years to discover and test your skills, push yourself, and figure out if advertising is for you is why we go to college in the first place. NSAC is tough, but it produces leaders and innovators who are ready for anything, and believe in themselves. That’s how we have dominated Districts 5 times in the last 7 years, and currently 3 years in a row now, and why NSAC alum are prepared for whatever their career has in store for them.

Think you have what it takes to join the team? Applications are still open, but spots are limited. Contact professor Robin Spring for details and to ask about applying. Your skillset could be just what the 2021-2022 team needs!

By Micah Hill

Sources:

A long, rewarding year with 19 talented people and one stellar advisor.

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