Former McKinney interns advance to NSAC semifinals with integrated campaign for Mary Kay - McKinney

Former McKinney interns advance to NSAC semifinals with integrated campaign for Mary Kay

April 24, 2014

Earlier this month, five former Mterns — Taylor Baird, Justine Berger, Megan Canjar, Scott Dobbin and Sophie Wolf — competed in the National Student Advertising Competition (NSAC) with 14 others on a team from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. They’ve advanced to the semifinals, which are held via conference call this Friday.

It’s a big deal. UNC would be representing their district in the finals for the first time in 12 years.

Every year, the American Advertising Federation (AAF) holds the NSAC for colleges and universities in each of its 15 districts. This year’s sponsor, Mary Kay, provided the teams with a case study that outlined the history of their brand and their current advertising situation. The teams then conducted research, identified Mary Kay’s challenges and developed an integrated campaign.

“The client wanted to appeal to 18- to 25-year-olds, and they had a $10 million budget,” explains Megan, who is now a freelancer at McKinney in Talent Management. “Our team had to come up with a marketing campaign that would reach millennials without alienating Mary Kay’s existing customers or their independent beauty consultants.” This was going to be tough: The brand’s products can only be purchased through their consultants (or IBCs), even online, and the median age of the 600,000 IBCs in the United States is over a decade older than the campaign’s target audience.

Through surveys and interviews the team learned “really meaningful information about women and how they interact with their makeup,” said Sophie, who is also freelancing at McKinney in Account Management. They did more in-depth interviews with millennials using Pinterest, and some team members attended Mary Kay parties. But they learned the most when one of them went undercover as an IBC. “We all pitched in to buy her the starter kit, and she went to the training and met the local district folks,” said Sophie. “The best part was that she learned what motives IBCs.”

“We learned that the target spends about 10 minutes or less a day on their makeup,” said Megan. “It’s a small part of the day in terms of time, but a large part in terms of impact. So we wanted to tell millennials that using Mary Kay maximizes their confidence in a minimal amount of time.” The team also knew they had to change the in-home Mary Kay party platform to be more specific to the wants and needs of millennials.

“We pitched a three-phase campaign that solved the problem from the inside out,” explained Sophie. “It started with heavy internal education for the existing IBCs. Then there was a multicity experiential marketing component, followed by messaging via an ad campaign that relied heavily on a smartphone app,” explained Megan.

Teams had 20 minutes to pitch everything, from strategy to creative, to a media judge, a creative judge and a Mary Kay judge, who spoke with the team after the Q&A. “She said our undercover IBC stunt was one of the reasons she chose us,” Megan remembered.

On Friday, April 25, the UNC team will take a call with the national judges, who have seen their pitch book but not their presentation. By 5:00 PM they’ll know whether they’re going to Boca Raton for the finals at the AAF’s annual conference at the end of May. Congratulations to our amazing interns. You inspire us, and we wish you the best on Friday!