Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

Schwartz School students competing for national title in Canada’s Next Top Ad Exec

March 22nd, 2017
L-r, Kate Perkins-McVey and Maddie Gillmeister

Two students from StFX’s Gerald Schwartz School of Business are competing for national honours this week in Toronto.

Kate Perkins-McVey and Maddie Gillmeister, a team of fourth year advanced marketing majors, have advanced to the top 10 in Canada’s Next Top Ad Exec competition, the nation’s largest advertising and marketing experiential program.

They made the finals after a competition process that included 215 submissions from 25 schools. Now they will vie for the national title before a panel of judges in downtown Toronto on March 27 in the competition which challenges business students across Canada to create a marketing campaign for an industry leading sponsor.

“We’re proud of how StFX can compete with larger universities on a national scale. We’re the only team east of Concordia to make it to the top 10,” says Ms. Gillmeister of Toronto, ON. “Being able to apply our knowledge in a real life situation is rewarding and gratifying,” she says.

Ms. Perkins-McVey of Ottawa, ON says it’s satisfying to take their own idea and be able to develop it, as well as to see their hard work pay off.

“I’ve never had such a strict schedule on my calendar,” she says, noting the extra work they’ve put into the competition along with their studies. They were also the Campus Account Managers at StFX for the competition and placed second overall across all Canadian universities for the effectiveness of their campaign and the interest they generated.

Both students say they were thrilled when they learned they had advanced from the top 25 into the final round.

Canada's Next Top Ad Exec, sponsored by Chevrolet and Canadian Tire, requires participants to develop a unique, creative advertising campaign/idea. This year’s lead partner GM asked students to develop a marketing plan to launch GM’s new car-sharing service, Maven, into Canada and utilizing a $200,000 marketing budget.

The first phase of the competition required student teams to submit a two-page elevator pitch outlining their plan. From there, the top 25 finalists are asked to provide a comprehensive 15-page report on their campaign including research, strategy and implementation.

A diverse panel of over 60 judges, from industry and academia narrow the field to the top 10, who fly to Toronto to network with industry executives and organizers and to present their solutions in front of a panel of judges of industry, academia and sponsors.

The winners walk away with the title and the keys to their own 2017 Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback. Other top prizes include $2,000 Air Canada Vacation vouchers and up to $6,000 in cash prizes.

The competition’s closing ceremonies take place March 27 when finalists present their ideas. The gala will include an evening of networking with industry professionals, media, and other top business students, followed by an awards gala where they will crown Canada’s Next Top Ad Exec.

Both Ms. Perkins-McVey and Ms. Gillmeister say the experience has benefitted them. They say they’ve improved their time management skills, their ability to work under pressure, their confidence and belief in themselves and their ideas, and their ability to think more critically and outside the box.

Both had praise for faculty in StFX’s Gerald Schwartz School of Business, who they say have gone out of their way to provide support.

“The professors have helped us a lot,” Ms. Perkins-McVey says. “The StFX culture within the classroom is much different. It’s much more hands on….You have those connections with your professors from the start. They know you and they’re willing to help you.”

“We feel so supported by the business faculty,” Ms. Gillmeister says. “They really want you to do well, which has definitely helped.”

Along with faculty feedback, they say StFX alumni have been helpful too. Recent grads Meaghan Wright and Cody Reeves, who made last year’s top 10 as StFX business students, were always willing to provide advice, they say.  

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