MSU Ad Team competes virtually and wins national competition

University Communications Office

SPRINGFIELD — The Missouri State University Ad Team took first place in the McCain Institute’s Peer-to-Peer Protective campaign in a virtual competition June 23.

Teams originally planned to present their campaigns in person, but concerns surrounding COVID-19 changed the competition circumstances.


Members of MSU Ad Team competed virtually. (Courtesy news.missouristate.edu)

Instead, MSU was one of three universities to participate in a virtual presentation via Zoom. While this presented team members with new challenges, they pressed forward with the campaign and finished strong.

MSU’s Ad Team has earned eight national titles since 2008.

The team was tasked with creating a campaign that aims to address the topic of targeted violence in the community.

Team members used skills they learned in the classroom, practical experience, outside research and insight from advisors to create a campaign that builds emotional intelligence, positive self-image and resilience in youth.

Their efforts resulted in the Kindness Empowers Youth, or K.E.Y., program, to counter the spread of Incel communities and targeted violence.

Incel is short for “Involuntary Celibate.” They are an online community of predominately heterosexual men whose self-worth is defined by perceived physical and sexual inadequacy.

The program aims to help children in grades 3-5 build emotional intelligence and a healthy self-concept to make the right choices in tough situations.

This opportunity is already opening doors for the students to continue the KEY campaign and launch their professional careers.

“Competing on a national stage allows graduates to connect with a broader network and I’m excited that some of the team is already in contact with high-profile organizations following the win,” said Ad Team instructor Samantha Francka.

EdVentures Partners facilitated the competition. EdVentures is an organization that focuses on developing partnerships for students to apply their skills and gain valuable, real-world experience.

“The MSU Ad Team always assembles a magical blend of student talent that is creative, dedicated and hard working,” said Tony Sgro, CEO of EdVentures. “Not only has their legacy been firmly established based upon all the previous campaigns they have won, but also today, which is impressive given the extremely competitive talent landscape we see with participating university teams.”

The 2020 team includes the following students:

Toni Buffa, St. Peters

Hayden Ferguson, Lee Summit

Jordan Galkowski, St. Charles

Morgan George, St. Charles

Taylor Howard, Manchester

Lauren Kerr, Wichita

Kennedy Kuhlmann, Wildwood

Lauren McCracken, Cadet

Jordan Moore, Wildwood

Katie Novak, Chesterfield

Tara Orr, Blue Springs

Megan O’Shea, Wentzville

Sarah Thomas, Jefferson City

Ad Team is a for-credit course for students interested in pursuing careers in the marketing field. Students from all majors are welcome.

Students in MKT 480 (Advertising Campaigns) participate in hands-on experiences that provide an opportunity to work closely with a real client who expects campaign implementation and data-driven results.

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