Sonya Khanna

Business Editor

A crowd of eager individuals thirsty for a challenge attended the Wednesday launch for the national advertising and marketing case competition run by McMaster University’s DeGroote School of Business.

The competition is anticipated to draw in over 700 submissions this year, spreading its wings across Canada with participants from roughly 32 universities.

The competition prides itself on the ability to service participants with real world gains aside from the seemingly cliché thrill of acquiring a tangible medal.

Up for grabs for the winning team is the brand new 2013 Chevrolet Spark as well as scholarship opportunities coupled with the opportunity to gain crucial industry exposure unparalleled by other business competitions in Canada.

What sets this competition apart from others is that students are exposed to real world experiences providing them with an avenue to implement the skills they have acquired, giving participants a jumpstart into the proverbial corporate circus.

“It’s about the freedom to get to the job they’ve been dreaming about, it’s a big social win in your peer group, it’s a bundle of paybacks that does not happen with any other program of this nature,” said Mandeep Malik, professor at DeGroote School of Business and founder of the competition. “Students always wonder of the value of their education. They can put it together, bring it to play and use it to bring a solution that is unanticipated.”

Canada’s Next Top Ad Exec requires the avid challenge seeking business enthusiast to meticulously prepare a marketing campaign for a new Chevrolet vehicle.

This year participants are allotted a promotional budget of $5,000,000, about the amount that an organization would spend in urban markets.

“By opening the competition up beyond the walls of the campus and looking at key urban centres across Canada, a $5,000,000 budget is a blessing in disguise,” says Paul Bailey, Advertising Integration Manager with General Motors of Canada. “You have to plan out how to use the money because that’s what we do in Chevrolet; every dollar spent is examined closely, so is how it’s used and what the return is.”

Creative freedom and flexibility of decision making is the name of the game.

I bet you were wondering when the endless caffeine filled cram sessions in Mills Library would finally pay off as your mind collects dust with the oodles of theoretical knowledge you have acquired throughout your undergrad. Students are provided with real world challenges enabling a less theoretical, predominantly hands on approach allowing for the implementation of acquired business skills in real world scenarios.

“To have that opportunity to offer advice, have real world numbers and real world problems is huge and you won’t find it anywhere else,” states Bailey.

Students have a broad resource base to seek a helping hand and kick start the brainstorming process.

“Students can read our competitor overviews and I would encourage students to do research every night and learn about the brand,” says Canada’s Next Top Ad Exec co-chair and second place winner, Patricia Wozniak. “Probably the most essential thing is that you need to have a campaign based off the brand. Learning about it and indulging yourself in it and becoming an advocate yourself is essential.”

Brainstorming is one of the key drivers to success and students are encouraged to be persistent, keep at it and to not be discouraged.Each idea is valuable in the brainstorming process and contributes greatly to the overall process of the plan implemented. For students to be successful in the competition developing a process that is compelling and relevant to Canadians and reflects the overall brand personality of Chevrolet is crucial.

“My challenge to the students is making sure that every dollar relates back to their original objective,” states Paul Bailey.

“Every dollar should make sense given the buying cialis online plan they have developed, and every dollar spent relates back to making the Spark known, understood and relevant in the market place.”

“There’s a lot of market research that has to be done like developing your market segmentation and identifying your top competitors,” said CNTAE co-chair Ed Shin. “Students should take advantage of all the resources available at your school. Most ideas that fail are because not enough research is put into it. The prize should really be students implementing what you learn in the classroom to this real world case.”

The competition is divided into three phases with the initial phase scheduled to take place in January and the final presentation phase set for March 2012.

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