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Y. students take first in ad campaign

Group will compete in Paris this summer at the international finals

SHARE Y. students take first in ad campaign
Ad team Blake Hadley, left, Matt Miller and Monica McGhie with adviser Jeff Sheets, back.

Ad team Blake Hadley, left, Matt Miller and Monica McGhie with adviser Jeff Sheets, back.

David Scott, Daily Universe

PROVO — A group of Brigham Young University advertising students took a bite out of the Big Apple over the weekend.

The trio of 20-something students won first place in an ad campaign for sunscreen products by L'Oreal. They will now compete in the international finals in Europe this summer.

"We're going to Paris!" said BYU advertising professor Jeff Sheets.

Sheets is director of the BYU advertising lab and accompanied the students to New York City for the L'Oreal Brandstorm Marketing Competition.

Two of the five groups competing were from BYU's department of communications. This is the first time a university has placed two finalists in the event. More than 200 colleges competed in the preliminary rounds of this year's contest.

The Brandstorm competition gives undergraduate students the opportunity to revamp one of L'Oreal's signature product lines. Students developed an international brand strategy and a marketing campaign for Vichy Capital Soleil, a line of suncare products for women, men and children.

The winning BYU students, speaking via their cell phones over the weekend in interviews with the Deseret News, said they were nervous for their presentation — and then somewhat intimidated after seeing the other teams' work.

They competed against groups from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, New York University and the University of Texas at Austin.

Each team presented a five-minute highlight reel showcasing their branding, packaging and marketing campaigns. A group of corporate executives assessed the finalists.

The BYU students said they couldn't believe it when they won.

"I'm floored," said ad team member Monica McGhie.

The BYU group also won Best Communications Campaign. McGhie said when that award was announced earlier, she was disappointed because she thought there was no way her team could win two awards. But they did.

"I'm so excited to go to Paris," McGhie said.

Team member Blake Hadley said, "I need to get my passport."

The trip to Paris will be all-expenses paid, including airfare and other transportation, hotel and food for the three students and faculty adviser Sheets. L'Oreal funded the three trips to New York City for the three segments of the competition for the students but not for the faculty adviser.

All three BYU students, seniors majoring in advertising, have big plans after graduating this month.

Hadley, 25, of Orem, and teammate Matt Miller, 24, of Provo, have advertising internships lined up. Hadley will work for DDB Advertising while Miller is at McCann Erickson advertising, both in New York City, for the spring. Then the pair will head to Leo Burnett advertising in Chicago for the summer.

McGhie, 21, of Taipei, Taiwan, is going to serve a summer internship with global media network MindShare in New York City.

"I'm so proud to represent BYU as my school," McGhie said.

BYU's 2007 ad team won Best Communication Campaign in Paris last year. All three members of BYU's 2007 team have accepted job offers with L'Oreal.

E-mail: astewart@desnews.com