NKU Marketing Students Dominate Cincinnati AMA Pinnacle Awards

“Working to solve a real-world marketing problem
was one of the most beneficial experiences I have had at NKU…”

By Tom Ramstetter
Web Marketing + Communications

Nearly three months after winning the collegiate category at the 2014 Marketing Pinnacle Awards presented by the Cincinnati chapter of the American Marketing Association, senior marketing major Alex Smith says the honor still hasn’t sunk in.

“When my name was announced as the winner, I felt an overwhelming combination of pride, jubilation, and shock,” Alex says. “Knowing I beat out other projects from students at UC, Xavier, and Miami University was an additional bonus.”

Alex’s spring 2014 MKT 392 project for Hoist topped an all-NKU finalist field that included senior marketing major Sydney Schwalbach and Tiffany Hopkins, a 2013 NKU graduate with a Bachelor of Science in marketing from the Haile/U.S. Bank College of Business. Sydney worked on an MKT 392 project during fall 2013 for NKU Wellness and Tiffany’s Fall 2013 MKT 333 project was for Tide Cold Water (P&G) and Disney.

David Raska

Northern Kentucky University Assistant Professor of Marketing David Raska nominated each finalist.

“This is a huge honor that I will be able to add to my resume to gain a leg up on other candidates when looking for a job,” Alex says. “It also means I have demonstrated my ability to solve real-world marketing problems and have tangible evidence for my portfolio that I will be able to discuss during interviews, or show to future clients.”

Tiffany received word of her finalist position while pursuing her dream job at Disney World in Orlando.

“When I received the information that I was being nominated for such a prestigious award, I was shocked, especially since I am currently working for Mr. Mickey Mouse himself and am 1,000 miles away,” Tiffany says. “For me to receive any kind of recognition was very honorable.

“I am adding this great honor to my resume for sure and I hope that it will one day help me work at the highest office in Cinderella's castle."

Sydney has a similar outlook.

“Being a finalist for this award was a very proud moment in my life,” Sydney adds. “Not only did my professor and NKU Wellness recognize my abilities, but also the Greater Cincinnati AMA and people that see all different types of marketing in their everyday lives.  It has presented me with different companies that I would be interested in working for once I graduate in December.  It also was an educational experience because the speakers gave us information and reinforced how to incorporate what we learn in marketing classes to how to use it in real life situations.”

Each finalist drew on skills and experiences from their marketing classes at NKU.

“Working to solve a real-world marketing problem was one of the most beneficial experiences I have had at NKU,” Alex says.

“This project allowed me to gain insight into the amount of work and research necessary before making any marketing decision, including even the smallest change in packaging design.”

To learn more about projects like these, visit bluezzoon.com.

Alex Smith and Sydney Schwalbach

Senior marketing major Alex Smith, left, won the collegiate category at the 2014 Marketing Pinnacle Awards presented by the Cincinnati chapter of the American Marketing Association in May. Dr. David Raska, center, also nominated senior marketing major Sydney Schwalbach, right, who was also a finalist.

Tiffany Hopkins

Tiffany Hopkins graduated in 2013 with a Bachelor of Science in marketing and is pursuing her dream job at Disney World. Tiffany was a finalist at the 2014 Marketing Pinnacle Awards presented by the Cincinnati chapter of the American Marketing Association in May.

More About the Finalists' Projects

Alex Smith
Project #63: What Does Your Target Market Say About You?

Alex’s project for Hoist consisted of three mini-projects.

“Hoist sales in the U.S. were stalling and showing an overall lack of growth,” Alex says. “The objective of my project was to determine how to improve sales and brand equity across U.S. Millennials with an active lifestyle that may be interested in the perfectly isotonic and rapidly rehydrating product, Hoist.

“As a member of the target market that Hoist was actively seeking, I was able to use first-hand knowledge to determine what would make their product appeal to my peers and me. I was also able to apply what I had learned from in-class exercises and prior marketing classes to draw inspiration regarding effective marketing practices.

“This project has reaffirmed that I am on the right career path and have the skills required for the real world. The marketing program at NKU has done an excellent job preparing their students for success after graduation. Client-based projects such as this one have taught me more than I could ever learn from a textbook. I hope to take what I have learned from this project and apply it to a future career in marketing research or consumer product marketing.”


Sydney Schwalbach
Is Old School going to encourage consumers
to make a real food choice?

NKU Wellness wanted to inspire the community to engage in healthy choices that will help to benefit personal health, the society, and the environment as a whole.

Enter Sydney.

“Their most recent idea is to promote the idea of ‘real food’ consumption by encouraging simple and natural ingredients, rather than food that contains preservatives,” Sydney says. “By doing so, I offered a recommendation of what NKU Wellness can do to increase awareness for real food consumption on campus by using an advertisement campaign. The objective is to present students with information significant enough to catch their attention in order to learn more and increase their knowledge of what they need to eat in order to be healthier because of the rapid increase of obesity in the United States.

“We had to develop an innovative marketing research report for NKU Wellness, focusing on promoting the NKU community to engage in healthy choices that will help to benefit their health, society, and the environment as a whole. In order to promote this idea of a healthy lifestyle to the students, our idea was to redesign their promotional advertisement to encourage students to sign a petition for real food on campus. Execution of marketing research included both descriptive and causal research methods, collection of data via Qualtrics, and analysis of data from a survey sample of 900-plus college students using SPSS. I had strong supporting evidence to make recommendations to NKU Wellness with how to improve their advertisement and what could help them become more successful.”

Tiffany Hopkins
How can Disney’s Friends for Change help a detergent?

Tiffany partnered with Tide to promote Tide Coldwater to a unique way.

“This project was based off of the idea that we, as a nation and culture, need to consider the future effects of our current habits such as waste of food, energy, and resources,” Tiffany says. “We were to partner with Tide and help promote their new item, Tide Coldwater, in a way to gain attention and intention to buy from their target market in a unique way that would be grabbing to the audience as well as the client, Tide.

“Once Dr. Raska help me find my tie to Disney, I took off. Partnering with a company that I have looked up to my entire life and one that I wanted to become apart off, the "juices" began to pour over me with ideas and areas to cover in this project. Because I had only about 10 weeks to complete the project and I wasn't so close to Disney as I thought, the areas and things I could explore were mostly via Internet. I found great insight through the help of Dr. Raska as well as Disney's multiple sites for information regarding their Friends for Change program.”