Undergrads Top National AT&T Competition

May 22, 2014

Eller winners of the AT&T Competition

As part of a national competition, UA marketing students designed an AT&T campaign to promote the company for potential employment opportunities.

University of Arizona marketing students won a nationwide advertising competition in which they developed and executed an employment recruitment campaign for AT&T.

Students in the Marketing 425 course "Advertising Management" at the Eller College of Management – affectionately nicknamed "425 Catvertising" – spent the semester developing the campaign around AT&T's internships and full-time job opportunities in sales, technology and retail. Their motive was to entice students to pursue employment with the company.

The project was part of the AT&T Campus Marketing Challenge, in which university teams vied for a chance to present at a networking event held Tuesday and Wednesday at AT&T headquarters in Dallas.

"Being the first University of Arizona advertising team since 2009 to capture the win against several other schools feels special," said team member Davis Bauer, a marketing senior.

"And the fact that AT&T executive directors are looking to implement our solutions following our presentation is what meant the most for me. It's obviously a big accomplishment, to be nationally recognized by a company like AT&T," he said. "I will be able to bring this victory into future interviews I have and look back on such a great experience I had with the rest of my advertising team."
In 2010, the UA's Catvertising 425 team was a finalist in a Public Service Announcements for International Disasters competition. Also, UA students won the 2009 Honda Insight marketing competition, taking the $5,000 prize, for a promotional plan that targeted university students.

"The students that presented in that case all have jobs in advertising - and they insist that this class is what launched their collective careers and speak about the importance of this type of hands-on learning," said Ed Ackerley, an adjunct instructor for the UA Department of Marketing in the College of Management. "We are privileged as instructors to be able to offer our students opportunities that enhance their education."

This year's competition was sponsored through a partnership between AT&T and EdVenture Partners, which funds the student campaigns. Each team was given $3,000 to develop their ideas.

"Winning the EdVenture Partners AT&T Brand Challenge is an excellent experience for our Eller College marketing students and great preparation for career and life," Ackerley said. Five students presented on behalf of the 62-member class, meeting top executives in the company. 

All of the students in Ackerley's class worked on the AT&T campaign. One major component was peer-to-peer marketing to inform other students about possible careers with AT&T. Studies relied on social media, such as Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook, and also conducted surveys.

For the AT&T campaign, the UA team came up with the slogan "Unlock Your Future." As part of the campaign, students were divided into six different "departments," including the creative team and groups responsible for public relations, research and finance, among other tasks.

"Our students actually engaged just under 1,000 students who said they were interested in possible careers with AT&T.  From that, AT&T would like to find, train and employ dozens of students from the UA," Ackerley said, adding that two students in the class will be joining AT&T this summer, and several others are applying for jobs.

"It's like an agency, all hands on deck when needed," Ackerley said of the course, which is designed like a small advertising agency. "They are given real-life experience before they leave school so they get to put theory into practice."

Over the course of the semester, the campaign engaged UA students who signed up to receiving information about AT&T and different job opportunities.

Bauer, who would like to work with AT&T in account management or public relations, said he believes he and his team were not only effective, but highly creative, especially in targeting students via social media.

"I learned to never stop improving myself throughout the competition, and work closely with groups of people in a highly effective manner," he said. "I also learned different techniques in conducting a proper needs assessment for the client we had, and they were obviously impressed with our recommendations for them."

Michelle Orci, a UA marketing senior and director of the campaign, oversaw all six departments, acting as a liaison between the class and AT&T.

"All of these campaigns have been a great learning experience," Orci said. "We got a taste of the real world and learning how to apply real-world rules of advertising."