UNI advertising team takes top honors

UNI advertising team takes top honors

On Friday, April 22, 2022, a team of advertising students from UNI took home the top prize at the AAF District 9 National Student Advertising Competition (NSAC) in Kansas City, Missouri for their winning campaign for Meta to promote the Quest 2 VR headset.

The team delivered a persuasive pitch for a national promotional campaign that won accolades from competition judges, including the Global Social & Influencer Marketing Manager from Meta, who flew in from San Francisco to judge the entries.

The UNI AAF team in Kansas City following the big win

"I am so incredibly proud of the work this team has put in to win first place," said team leader Madison TenHulzen, who is double majoring in interactive digital studies (IDS) and marketing with an emphasis in advertising and digital media and a minor in entrepreneurship. "This experience has shaped my UNI experience and exceeded any expectations I could have set.”

Media Director Ally Davis, a senior IDS major, said, “[The competition] has been one of the most impactful experiences of my college career thus far. I have learned more about myself and how to successfully lead a group of my peers through this competition. Along the way I discovered my passion for advertising - I wouldn’t trade it for anything!”

Pitch team Claire Schettler (Account Planner), Leah Little (Media Strategist), Madison TenHulzen (Director of Accounts & Strategy) Cayla Fulcher (Creative Director), and Ally Davis (Media Director).

The team of 30 UNI students has been working on the campaign since September when Meta gave over 200 teams at colleges across the country a brief that outlined the goals and target audience of the campaign. 

Students then spent months researching that audience, along with VR technology and Meta’s history as a social technology brand. From this research, they developed a media strategy to reach their target audience, a messaging strategy to communicate to that audience and all of the creative elements that were to be part of the proposed campaign.

This work is facilitated by Instructor of Marketing Matthew Wilson, who is the faculty advisor for the AAF chapter at UNI. Wilson said of the team, “The competition is very fierce in District 9, a district that includes powerhouse schools with strong advertising programs such as University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of Missouri, Webster University and Kansas University. This year the team from UNI was absolutely phenomenal and executed their pitch presentation perfectly - I couldn’t be prouder of these amazing students!”

“Garfield” - The AAF District 9 NSAC Trophy

After bringing home the big trophy for UNI, which the students have named “Garfield”, AAF students were then faced with a new challenge: competing among the top sixteen teams in the semifinals in early May. If they can repeat their command performance in the semifinal round, they would advance to the national finals in Nashville, Tennessee at the AAF national conference, where they would face the top seven schools in the nation for the national title.


AAF UNI is the college chapter of the American Advertising Federation at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI). It is the only student organization for UNI students who are passionate about advertising. While most closely associated with the department of marketing and entrepreneurship, AAF membership is made up of students across campus studying interactive digital studies, graphic design, graphic technology, public relations and digital media.

About the National Student Advertising Competition

The National Student Advertising Competition is the premier college advertising competition that provides more than 2,000 college students with the real-world experience of creating a strategic advertising campaign for a national brand.

AAF is divided into 15 geographical regions. Based on school location, student teams first compete at the district level. The winning team from each district then advances to the semi-finals, where NSAC teams compete for one of eight spots at the finals.

Students with President Mark A. Nook

More information on NSAC

About the American Advertising Federation

Headquartered in Washington, DC, the American Advertising Federation (AAF) is the “Unifying Voice for Advertising.” The AAF has 140 local clubs across the U.S. representing nearly 35,000 advertising professionals, connecting and leading the industry. They help more than 4,000 student members kickstart their careers within a 200+ college chapter network with an array of student programs. 

More information on AAF