Butler’s student advertising club, BUAdrenaline, placed first for the second consecutive year in the National Student Advertising Campaign, but losing their adviser may hinder their success next year.
Donna Gray, a strategic communications instructor and the group’s adviser, will be leaving Butler at the end of the semester. She said there is no apparent replacement for her role in Butler’s NSAC team.
The course will not be offered in the fall, but William Neher, dean of the College of Communication, said it will be offered in the spring.
This shortens what is usually a year-long process and class into a single semester.
Mark Rademacher, strategic communications program director in the College of Communication, said they dropped the course for the fall so faculty could attend the NSAC conference and learn more about the competition procedure.
“[Gray] advised that we offer the course only in the spring next academic year, but in future years go back to a two-semester option,” Rademacher said. “We’ve committed to do this, as long as there is student interest.”
Junior Karissa Tepe, an integrated communication major said these time constraints will affect how the group functions.
“I definitely think one year is more beneficial for a team to complete such an intense campaign,” Tepe said. “It will definitely be a lot more stressful in one semester. A one year class is ideal for this campaign.”
Gray has worked as an advertising professional for many years, which she said allows her to guide students better.
“When you’re at the competition you see the difference,” she said. “You see the schools that don’t have advisers who get it or who just teach classes.”
Sponsored by the American Advertising Federation, the NSAC allows students to compete against 11 other schools in the region to design an advertising campaign. The group then presents their idea to a client. This year’s client was retailer JCPenney.
The group meets as a class throughout the year and functions as an advertising agency with real-world roles and scenarios.
Gray said it helps students build professional skills they will need in the workplace.
“It can’t be just a good idea, it has to be researched and developed,” she said. “Every component has to be at a professional level. It’s not just a homework assignment. It’s a real thing. The client is probably going to use at least a part of it.”
Ryan Pylipow, a senior integrated communication major, was a part of the group’s design team. He agreed with Gray, and said the experience teaches very different skills than other classes.
“We can’t simply regurgitate what the textbook says,” he said. “This class forces us to use the knowledge we have accumulated through classes and put it into practice. “
Pylipow said Gray’s professional experience and her dedication to the team added greatly to the team’s success.
“She would stay up rehearsing with the presentation team until midnight or later, and then be up early again the next morning to start all over,” he said.
The amount of time and effort the team spends on preparing for the competition has brought them all closer together, Pylipow said.
“It’s a three credit hour class, but we spend so much time together that it feels like a family,” Pylipow said.
This was sophomore Katie Carlson’s first year competing in the NSAC. The public relations and advertising major was on the public relations and pitch team.
She said she would compete again and build on the skills she has developed.
She said the experience has supplemented her other classes well and will help her get a job when she graduates.
“Most students can tell employers what they did, but this class allows you to show them what you’ve done,” she said.
Tepe served as the team’s creative director, said the competition also prepares students for future careers by allowing them to interact with network of advertising professionals.
She said the group is searching for a new adviser so they can continue to have these opportunities, but Gray’s leaving will affect how the team functions.
“We realize it will be very hard to fill her shoes,” she said. “We’re looking for a good fit but realizing we may not get another Donna Gray.”
While Carlson said there are other professors in the College of Communication who could take on Gray’s role, she said he or she would need to have the same high expectations.
“My fear for next year is that there won’t be anyone there to push us, and we won’t be able to push ourselves hard enough, because we don’t have that outside perspective,” she said.