ANDYVISION - watch me try to be creative. live.

Monday, April 20, 2009

I got NSAC'd in the face

This weekend I had the pleasure/honor of being at judge at the AAF District XI NSAC in Spokane, Washington. (If you're not one for acronyms, that's the American Advertising Federation's Northwest National Student Advertising Competition.) Normally it'd be an rad event to take part in, but it was particular cool for me because I actually competed in the NSAC back during my senior year at the UGA (University of Georgia). So, being back three years later, sitting on the other side of the table, it was a strange experience. (And to make things even more bizarre, one of the other judges was Lori Hicks from the Traffic Agency in LA. She was from the University of Tennessee team that we competed against our district, but we had never met until Friday morning.)

To particiapte in NSAC, teams of college seniors (mostly) spend one or two semesters preparing an entire advertising campaign for the same brief. Research, media plans, creative, PR, everything. It's the first time that most students get a taste of what it's really like to put a full campaign together. As I was doing it, I remember thinking, "Wait, you mean I can just focus on creative and other people can worry about making a budget and putting all that other crap together?" That was the first time I started to understand what it might be like to actual be a "real-life creative."

This year the brief was for an anti-binge drinking campaign for students 18-24, sponsored by The Century Council. In the past it's ranged from Yahoo! to Coca-Cola to Toyota Matrix to Postal Vault. (Postal Vault was my year. Look it up. Ugh.)

Definitely a tough assignment for anyone, and it was great to see the students really tear into it. There were some issues here and there, but for most, it's the first time out of the gate. Overall the other judges and myself were really impressed by the all work and especially the presentations. One thing I particularly enjoyed was when teams built an identifiable brand around their campaign, rather than just makig a pile of advertising. If you look at any of the really good non-profit work nowadays, most of it is centered around a great brand—truth, The Tap Project, Project (RED), all brilliant. It's easier and more powerful for us to associate an idea was a logo, name, design and tone of voice. So, it was great to see some of the teams nod to that. There are some very smart kids out there in the Pacific Northwest.

Congrats to all the students and sponsors that threw away sleep, sanity and in some cases boyfriends/girlfriends/spouses to crank out some great work. I know Lori and I especially appreciated it because we've been in the exact same spot and know exactly what it's like. I also know how much it sucks to do all that work and then get anything but first place. (My team got sixth. Lori got first.) It makes it seem like the entire thing was all a waste of time. But it's not. To be honest, it was just the start of one crazy career ahead. There will be many more nights, weeks, months like that. And each time you do it, you'll get smarter, better, faster.

Congrats to the top teams too: Portland State, Boise State, BYU and Washington State. Nicely done, folks. And best of luck to everyone.

Don't celebrate too hard. OK, maybe just once or twice. You've earned it.

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