For the second time in three years, The University of Miami won first place at the highly competitive National Student Advertising Competition (NSAC) in Phoenix last week, besting 17 other district-winning universities from around the country with a vibrant and interactive marketing and advertising campaign for Glidden® Paint at Walmart. The UM Team, The Miami Collective, also took home the award for best use of research for the second consecutive year.

As part of the June 5-7, competition, students were challenged to create a $10 million, five-month campaign targeting do-it-yourself (DIY) women who shop at Walmart for everything — except paint.

The Miami Collective attacked the objective head-on, launching their campaign with a big-splash—the largest game of Hot & Cold ever played, right in Walmart stores around the country.  Designed to bring DIY shoppers into the currently ignorable paint section, the game is followed by a complete transformation of the Glidden® Paint section of Walmart, complete with in-store signage, eye-catching instructional materials, and painting demonstrations to showcase how Glidden® Paint can be used for all of the target’s DIY needs. The campaign also incorporated social media and digital media elements, as well as limited print and cable television.

“The Miami Collective from the University of Miami presented fresh and innovative work that speaks volumes for the talent, creativity and energy that future generation of marketers possess,” says Eric Stasiowski, Director of Communications for PPG Architectural Coatings, makers of Glidden® Paint. “What we saw were well-thought out plans backed by insight and strategic thought, which ultimately yielded some very real, implementable ideas.”

Hosted annually by the American Advertising Federation, the National Student Advertising Competition challenges students to think critically and develop high-level integrated marketing campaigns for some of the country’s most recognizable brands. Students then present their campaigns to corporate executives. More than 150 colleges and universities from 15 districts around the country participate. Companies such as Coca-Cola, State Farm, and Nissan, have been clients in the past. In 2011, the UM team took home its first national championship for its tech savvy campaign created for J.C. Penney.

This past April, UM secured its spot in the national competition by winning first place in the District Four NSAC competition for the third year in a row.

“For our team to win the national competition twice in the past three years, and to win the award for best use of research two years in a row is simply outstanding. To my knowledge, no other team ever has accomplished this,” says Advertising Professor Alyse Lancaster, the team’s co-adviser and Chair of the Department of Strategic Communication at the UM School of Communication. “I am so incredibly proud of the students on our team and the fact that they were willing to take risks and do something different, both on the research side and on the creative side.”

“Three years ago, no one knew who The Miami Collective was. They certainly know who we are now. And that’s because our students possess the drive and the talent and the work ethic necessary to create an award-winning campaign that stands out from the rest of the pack,” she adds.

 This year’s Miami Collective team included 29 students who put to use the skills they learned in the classroom during the competition.

“Our strategy changed three or four times as we uncovered various insights and consumer truths. This was instrumental to our win,” says recent graduate Katelyn Murray, the UM team’s strategy director. “We didn’t stop at the obvious solution and no other school had a big idea anywhere close to ours. We all learned that if you want to succeed, sometimes you have to take risks, but you have to execute them well.”

“This competition was a wonderful experience not only because we won, but mainly because we submerged ourselves in what a real agency does for clients,” adds senior Estefania Aguilar, the team’s associate strategy director.

The first place win comes with a $3,500 prize, and the research award, sponsored by Ad-ology, adds an additional $1,000 prize, all of which will go toward the creation of the campaign for next year’s competition.

“There was some great competition this year, but in the end it was clear that the story we had to tell was just different and rose above the rest,” says co-adviser Meryl Blau, an advertising faculty member at UM. “Between our extensive approach to research and desire to push creative limits, our work continues to stand out.”