Gabriel M. Carter was pretty excited when his team made Grand Valley history with a first place win at the District 6 National Student Advertising Competition, beating teams from 20 universities in Michigan, Indiana and Illinois. Even more excitement followed at the National Championship competition in Texas.
Sponsored by the American Advertising Federation, with the goal of giving students real-life, ad-agency experience, more than 150 teams nationwide were challenged to develop and design a $100 million, 12-month campaign for Nissan to increase brand awareness and market share, specifically to multicultural millennials.
Grand Valley’s team of 25 advertising and public relations students worked with School of Communications faculty co-advisers Roy Winegar, assistant professor, and Frank Blossom, affiliate professor. Each team worked for two semesters on their campaign, compiled their results in a printed plan book and condensed their plan for a 20-minute presentation by five team members. Carter was part of Grand Valley’s presentation team, which took tenth place at the national competition — but then he received yet another surprise.
“I was shocked beyond belief when my name was announced as the best individual presenter in the country,” said Carter who received the Bolton-Mac Vicar Best Presenter Award — a $500 prize. “I later had a flashback to our early rehearsals when I felt like the weakest link on the team.”
Carter said the experience allowed others to see him in a new light. “I also saw myself in a new light! We lived this campaign for nine months. It took a lot of practice, confidence, support and prayer. I asked Jesus countless times to help me, not be the best presenter, but to help me remember my parts and to simply have confidence in being myself,” he said.
A liberal studies major from Detroit, Carter is set to graduate following a study abroad experience in the next year.
“Frank Blossom and Allsion Metz were indispensable sources of encouragement,” said Carter. “The hardest yet most helpful part of being at Grand Valley is the overwhelming number of opportunities to make professional and personal connections. If you don’t take advantage of them, you may miss very valuable experiences.”