Ocean Spray makes for a great drink and an even better advertising competition for a group of ETSU students.


A collaboration of students from the Media and Communication, Digital Media and Art departments won first place at the American Advertising Federation National Student Advertising Competition. This is ETSU’s first win in the competition.

After the District 7 win, the ETSU team competed in the virtual semi-finals May 2-3 and was selected as one of eight programs out of the remaining 19 to compete for a national championship. The final round of the competition will take place June 7-8 in Chicago as part of Admerica, the AAF’s national conference.

In a competition that started with 150-plus schools, ETSU is in the final eight, now with a shot at a national title.

“We made history for our department and our students this year, and to be a part of that is so humbling,” said Sarah Halfacre, a student on the ETSU team. “The sleepless nights, heated arguments and endless brainstorming all proved to be worth it when they called our university for first place.”

The team consisted of 25 students from the three departments, who worked on the winning advertising campaign for Ocean Spray Cranberries Inc.

“This is great evidence of the collaborative, silo-busting interdisciplinary vision we all have focused on producing amazing professional work leading to great careers,” said Stephen Marshall, Chair of the Department of Media and Communication, in a news release by the Office of University Relations.

The teams were led by Marshall, Jonathan Hounshell from the Department of Digital Media and Kelly Porter from the Department of Art and Design.

The team competed in the seventh district of the competition, which is made up of 20 clubs and federations focused on advertising campaigns in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee, according to the news release.

The AAF NSAC “provides more than 2,000 college students the real-world experience of creating a strategic advertising/marketing/media campaign for a corporate client,” according to its website. The students collaborate to create a marketing plan, and then they present it to advertising professionals.

Media and Communication student Chance Powell won an individual Top Overall Presenter Award.

“Not only has NSAC given me the opportunity to build my experience, but it has allowed me to connect with many talented people in the programs as well,” Powell said. “I cannot express how glad I am to be a part of this fantastic team.”

Visit aaf.org for more information on the American Advertising Federation.