For members of the American Advertising Federation (AAF), it isn’t unusual to see an ad they created run along the side of a bus. But for the students involved in the Ithaca College chapter of the organization, their TCAT ad for the Foodnet Meals on Wheels campaign was a first.
At the beginning of the fall semester, AAF was given a budget of $25,000 to raise awareness for Foodnet Meals on Wheels, a local nonprofit organization that delivers meals to homes at a discounted rate.
AAF is an organization for students of all majors who are interested in advertising. The club has primarily worked on pro bono ad campaigns for local nonprofits and campus organizations, giving members experience and skills in the field.
With a group of 10 to 15 active members, the chapter began work in September and spent five months on the campaign, said senior Julie Gutman, who was vice president of AAF at the time.
“We really embraced [the project],” she said.
The students were responsible for every aspect of the campaign, from research to production. In the end, they created ads for television, radio and billboards, and according to Gutman, increased Foodnet’s donations by 65 percent.
Among their advertisements were three 30-second commercials for Time Warner Cable Channel 10 and a four-minute “Video on Demand” offered on cable. Using one of their commercial’s audio tracks, they also created a 30-second radio broadcast on four local stations.
Finally, the group designed ads placed on the inside and outside of TCAT buses in Tompkins County.
“Now we can look up to a billboard and say, I did that’,” Gutman said.
Scott Hamula, associate professor of strategic communication and the club’s adviser, said the Foodnet campaign is the biggest project AAF has worked on to date.
“This is the first time they’ve had a substantial budget and … were responsible for gathering information, as well as creating and executing the ads,” he said.
The budget came from a grant awarded to Foodnet by the Triad Foundation to increase awareness for their organization.
Eloise Greene, manager for TV operations at the college and a board member for Foodnet, said when she found out about the grant, she immediately thought of the work Hamula does with his students.
“I thought this would be a perfect project for AAF because it had a defined budget and a defined purpose and could be completed in one semester,” she said. “And I knew the students had the expertise.”
Gutman said typically she, former AAF president senior Leo Pike and the executive board head the projects, but this was the first time all members contributed equal time and effort.
“We really wanted to get all the members involved,” she said. “When you give people this responsibility, they really own up to it.”
AAF president and sophomore Jordan Trigilio served mostly as a media contact for the campaign. He said that he hopes to have more actual client work in the future.
“You feel like you’re a part of something,” he said. “You get everyone in the group’s support and there’s just more motivation to strive.”
Hamula said that he is amazed by what the students were able to accomplish.
“To drive around Ithaca and look up and see a billboard or hear a radio commercial or see a TV ad and know that our students … actually produced [it] is very gratifying,” he said. “I’m just very proud of them.”
Working in a professional situation was a learning experience for the club and provided insight into their future career path, Gutman said.
“I was reassured that I wanted to do advertising, and that you can do it for a good cause and be really influential,” she said.