Alumni experts return to Brock to judge case competition

The Department of Communication, Popular Culture and Film (CPCF) welcomed three esteemed Brock graduates back to campus on Friday, March 1 to judge the inaugural CPCF Campaign Challenge.

The event saw three teams of Brock undergraduates develop and pitch creative campaigns in response to a brand crisis situation. Students proposed a variety of solutions, from loyalty rewards and influencer campaigns to hashtag fundraisers and DIY shoe design packages.

Associate Professor Jacqueline Botterill, who led the organizing committee, says the inaugural CPCF Campaign Challenge was an experiment that resulted in an “experiential education eureka” moment.

“The organizing committee wondered what might happen if CPCF alumni, now experts in their sectors, evaluated the campaign ideas of three student teams,” says Botterill. “A rich, nuanced exchange ensued as students and alumni grappled with how to reap the benefits of celebrity influencer sponsorship and hashtags in digital campaigns while mitigating potential brand harms, such as influencers spouting hate speech or trolls hijacking hashtags.”

Founding Partner and Vice President of Fourgrounds Media, Inc. Kristen Nater (BA ’07) says that it was “a unique pleasure to work with such an accomplished group of fellow Brock alumni judges” and to push the student teams to their full potential.

“It was clearly evident by the thoroughness of the presentations that these students had done their research, scrutinized their plans and come up with some distinctly creative proposals,” says Nater. “It was great to see such commitment to inclusion and diversity and placing social responsibility at the forefront of their pitches.”

Stephanie Lasica (BA ’19), Senior Account Manager, Public Relations and Advisory at Argyle, had “an incredibly positive” overall impression of the pitches.

“The students demonstrated remarkable creativity, strategic thinking and a deep understanding of contemporary communication challenges,” says Lasica. “It was inspiring to see how they approached the problem with innovative solutions and presented their ideas with confidence and professionalism.”

For Claire Terrio (BA ’21), Digital Marketing and Communications Specialist with Framar, the return to Brock was especially meaningful.

“I was part of the 2021 graduating class that had a number of opportunities interrupted by the pandemic, so I missed out on a lot of the networking events and competitions like this when I was a student,” says Terrio. “It was a really positive, nostalgic way to return to campus in person for the first time since I finished my degree entirely online, and that made it even more joyful to see students participating and taking advantage of these awesome networking opportunities.”

A group of people pose for a photo outside in front of a garden.

CPCF Campaign Challenge competitors had a chance to network with judges and honoured guests before and after the pitch session.

The third-place team, “Heart and Sole,” included Yagyeash Mani, Kwina Patel and Bismanbir Singh. Second place was awarded to Jessica Avery and Nick Wilcox for “Colour Your Kicks.”

First place went to “Ignite Your Passion,” which means that teammates Matthew Cancilla and Eric Hoang will be the first to see their names engraved on the O’Malley Cup.

Named after Terry O’Malley, a long-time supporter of CPCF, the trophy will reside in the department to celebrate current and future Campaign Challenge winners.

“We chose to dedicate the cup to Terry O’Malley because he embodies excellence in business communication as well as a level of integrity and community spirit to which we want CPCF students to aspire,” says Botterill.

O’Malley and his wife, Barbara Wilson, joined the judges and participants for lunch prior to the event to offer advice and encouragement before attending the pitch session as honoured guests.

Cancilla, a fifth-year Business Communication major, says that the chance to network at the reception beforehand was a great opportunity.

“Having CPCF alumni as judges was very welcome, as I felt as though there was already a sense of commonality between myself and them,” says Cancilla. “I knew that we were coming from a similar background and that they would be understanding of the concepts that we would be speaking about.”

Hoang, a Business Administration student also in his fifth year, says that his biggest takeaway was the experience of working with “bright, like-minded people who aim towards excellence.”

“To have previous alumni with working experience in the field as judges was an amazing opportunity,” says Hoang. “The feedback and the advice we received from the judges resonated with my plans in the future and gave me a glimpse of what it really means to work within this particular field.”

CPCF faculty members involved in organizing the event included Botterill, Assistant Professor Michelle Chen, Associate Professor Anthony Kinik, Assistant Professor Duncan Koerber. Also on the organizing team were CPCF Digital Media Coordinator Connor Wilkes, CPCF Academic Administrator Pina McDonnell and student ambassador Ryan Tully, who also served as emcee.

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