YSU’s Ads Club Gears Up for Toledo Competition

By Spencer Curcillo

Youngstown State University’s Advertising Club is preparing a campaign for Pizza Hut to present at a competition in Toledo on April 16 and 17.

YSU’s Ads Club is a chapter of the American Advertising Federation, who is hosting the regional competition. The winning school will move on to a national competition in Las Vegas. Runners-up may also qualify for the national competition as a wild card.

Pizza Hut is this year’s client for the annual competition. Teams from various universities are tasked with designing an advertising campaign for the business.

Michael Pontikos, the faculty adviser for the club, took over three years ago. He has focused on expanding the club to include students with different disciplines and perspectives.

“You should consider joining Ads Club if you have a love or a passion for something. Even if you’re focused on STEM or education, but you love this type of atmosphere and something you can really sink your teeth into and have fun,” Pontikos said. “It’s a lot of hard work, but when it doesn’t feel like work and you really enjoy it, and you have a set goal, it makes it so much more fun.”

Kaitlyn Emery, president of the club, agreed with Pontikos’ goal of increasing diversity in the club.

“We’re really trying to bring everyone together to realize what Ads Club is all about and that you don’t have to be an advertising major to join,” Emery said. “It’s just a lot of fun, and you can really use your creative side and your business side to work with us.”

Eric Ostrander, a design major, is a member of the club. A large part of the advertising campaign’s goal was to expand Pizza Hut’s digital footprint. Ostrander designed a cell phone application for easier ordering of pizza.

“We wanted to give a prototype of how to make their app better,” Ostrander said. “It’s simpler; it’s more user friendly, so whether you’re elderly or young, you can basically order as quick and easy as possible. … I’m pretty excited to showcase it. A lot of hours went into it, so I’m glad to finally put it on a screen so other people can see it.”

While there was a large emphasis on digital mediums for this competition, that wasn’t the only focus. The campaign encompasses all mediums.

“Anything you can think of, we’ve pretty much hit it in our work,” Pontikos said.

Kristyn McCormick, another member of Ads Club, said the students gain experience with advertising that can’t be obtained in the classroom.

“Being in this setting definitely puts it into a different light than doing it in a classroom for a made up client,” McCormick said.

Ostrander also said the club is a good source of practical experience.

“[The] setup here is as close to an ad agency as you’re ever going to get outside of an internship,” Ostrander said.

In addition to the experience, Pontikos said he believes that participation in competitions like this appeals to employers.

“Knowing my students can take this plan and take it to a job interview and say, ‘Look what we did. This is what I did, and this is how we worked together as a team.’ I think that says volumes,” Pontikos said.

The club has been preparing for the competition in Toledo since October. They are confident in the campaign they have designed and optimistic about their chances at the competition.