New York high school students got a taste of the real world of advertising on Wednesday at ReACT, an advertising competition sponsored by the 4A's.
Teams of students from the Manhattan Early College School for Advertising and the High School for Innovation in Advertising and Media (iAM) in Brooklyn developed and presented pitches for an ad campaign for Reebok. Ad professionals helped the students develop their pitches and served as judges, and executives from Reebok were also on hand to judge the presentations.
"It's a great opportunity to get engaged with kids who are studying advertising, and, it's an opportunity to hear from future consumers," said Dave Abramo, director of global media and brand communications planning at Reebok.
"It's fun to tap into younger minds and find out what's interesting to them," said Priscilla Baez, vp and digital media director at Grey and one of the industry mentors who helped judge the contest. "You can learn from them just as much as they can learn from you."
As the advertising industry increasingly finds itself competing with tech firms and startups to attract young talent, efforts like these, which inspire students to consider careers in advertising and marketing, are more important than ever, said Chris Weil, CEO of Momentum and head of the 4A's High School Executive Advisory Board.
"This is a way to get kids interested early and open their eyes to what a career in advertising can be like. It's also opening up the eyes of a more diverse audience than what the industry is currently made up of," he said. "After getting so many years of advertising education, I always joke that these students will be better prepared than anyone else in our industry."
The winning campaign centered around a tagline: "Don't Just Push Your Limits. Destroy Them," and offered a detailed take of a day in the life of one of Reebok's target consumers, a 32-year-old woman who is dedicated to fitness.
Damario Spalding, a senior at iAM and one of the members of the winning team, aspires to a career in advertising. "It's so fun to bring ideas to life. There's never a dull moment," he said. "Being able to come up with ideas and work together as a team is fun. It was cool to present for a real company and give them ideas that they might use."