AAF’s National Student Advertising Competition (NSAC) is a nationwide student advertising event. I participated in NSAC in my second and third years of college. In my third year, I served as Media Director, Co-Marketing Director, and Co-Presenter on a team of nearly 20 people.
The 2022 NSAC client was Meta Quest (Oculus). The brand had recently launched its Quest 2 VR headset and was seeking to expand its reach among college students in the 18–24 age range. The Quest 2 offers gaming, entertainment, and social engagement, all of which resonate with younger consumers. However, most of these consumers aren’t on board with VR yet.
Goal: “Make Quest 2 a coveted, essential product for college students and those preparing for it.”
We were given a $10 million budget, 4-month campaign window, and a request to integrate the existing Quest is Ready platform into our concept.
We developed Start Your Quest, a multi-touchpoint campaign driven by creativity and connection. Each aspect of the campaign is uniquely “phygital,” bridging the gap between the digital and physical worlds.
Through our research, we found that the best way to reach Gen Z with the Quest 2 would be to show its capability for real interaction. We created detailed personas that guided our planning, developed promotions that would tackle Gen Z’s common misconceptions about VR, and covered when, where, and how we’d pull it all off.
Secondary Research: We started our research in 2021, covering Meta Quest’s history, the VR industry, Quest 2’s product specs, and potential competitors. After forming the full team, we continued researching these topics, as well as Gen Z’s preferences, habits, and social media usage.
Primary Research: We conducted a survey of nearly 600 members of our target audience and directly interviewed 7 qualified respondents. Later, we held a focus group of college students and industry professionals to validate our findings and messaging.
Primary Research Takeaways: Although they’re technologically adept, 80% of our audience only updates their tech “when it’s necessary.” The fear of the unknown is a common barrier they struggle to overcome. They sometimes perceive VR as dystopian, worrying that it will contribute to their feelings of isolation instead of helping them connect.
Another common Gen Z concern is that “there’s not enough to do in VR,” and that they don't have the time to apply the tech in relevant ways.
Our campaign addresses Gen Z’s VR pain points and brings them into the world of the Quest 2 with a three-phase campaign.
The Find phase helps the audience discover what they’ve been missing with VR via school events and a scholarship program. The Follow phase gets them directly involved through the cutting-edge QUE (Quest Universal Experience) convention and the introduction of the Blueprint showcase. Finally, the Conquer phase drives sales and engagement during the holiday season with unique retail partnerships.
Social media promotions, influencer partnerships, and a campaign microsite would be promoted at various points throughout the campaign.
I worked closely with the the marketing team and other leaders to handle the strategic elements of the campaign. While the marketing team didn’t touch design, we learned how to communicate our vision for each marketing channel to the Art Directors and other designers. The leaders would meet up virtually and in-person to establish our plans for the day and check in with our members to keep everything on track.
I contributed to the research process and campaign concept. I helped to flesh out our channels and define campaign KPIs, allowing our research to drive the decisions.
A few focus areas included the Blueprint premiere and promotional box, Rich Presence Integration for Discord, marketing software research, and the selection of our Key Market Areas. As the Media Director, I also led the development of the media plan and budget.
I was one of four members of the presentation team, which included the Creative Director, Project Manager, and Plans Book Design Lead. We worked alongside the rest of the team to craft a 20-minute presentation that covered our entire campaign process. We also prepped the team for the post-presentation Q&A session.
Our team scored well with our booklet and final presentation. We received positive feedback for our professionalism and creative concepts, with one judge saying that our strategy was agency-level.
The Media Director role took me out of my comfort zone. I went into NSAC with minimal knowledge of media planning and left with a much deeper understanding of campaign budgeting, scheduling, and marketing strategy.
I was technically a remote student during NSAC. I traveled to The Modern for each week’s first meetup and connected remotely for the second one. This hybrid work experience was both challenging and rewarding. I became more skilled with collaborative tools that allowed me to stay involved with the team and communicate effectively.