Point Park students part of winning team at advertising competition


Photo by Cathy Vu | Submitted

Junior public relations and advertising major Kayla Belovich and senior public relations and advertising major Kristina Pacifico visit advertising firm Garrison Hughes for the Pitch competition.

Written By Alexander Popichak, Editor-in-Chief

Two Point Park students were members of the winning firm of this year’s “The Pitch” advertising competition.

The annual competition, sponsored by the Pittsburgh regional chapter of the Advertising Federation (AdFed), challenges six groups of advertising students to craft a marketing plan for a specific client. Teams are assigned a local professional advertising firm to assist in the creation of a plan but all of the work is developed by advertising and marketing students from the Greater Pittsburgh Area.

Kayla Belovich, a junior advertising and public relations major, said a class with public relations and advertising professor Bob O’Gara inspired her to join the competition.

“I was in Bob O’Gara’s class and he said, ‘if you’re in advertising you should look into doing this, it’s ‘The Pitch,” Belovich said Sunday. “I was, like, ‘that’s what I want to do with my life so I should be a part of it and hopefully this will help me see if I am capable of doing that in my future.”

Belovich and senior advertising and public relations major Kristina Pacifico were the two Point Park students on the 12-person team. The task at hand for each advertising team was to provide a marketing strategy for Outreach Teen and Family Services based in Mt. Lebanon, Pa.

“This wasn’t a re-branding project,” Pacifico said Sunday. “They wanted to reach out to more teens, which is their main target audience, and they just wanted to know what our thoughts were.”

Belovich and Pacifico said their team’s strategy was to make use of social media and other low-cost advertising methods to target teenagers who may be hesitant to seek counseling on their own.

The teams have eight hours to create a marketing strategy with the assistance of their host advertising firm. Based on an eight page proposal and a ten minute video, two finalists are chosen to present a full pitch directly to their client.

“You learn to work with different types of personalities and people,” Pacifico said. “I realized that not all those who participated are advertising students. You have some that are designers that are strictly graphic designers.”

Pacifico explained that teams are supposed to get a binder with the problem the client is facing, and their target demographic. Garrison Hughes account manager and team sponsor Cathy Vu said the oversight seemed to work in the team’s favor.

“As I read through the proposals afterwards, our team was the only team who skewed from that [target demographic] and they decided to focus on teens 14-21,” Vu said via phone Monday. “To me it feels like that set them apart from everyone else, and if they had gotten the book, that may have confined them a little.”

While the six teams craft proposals for the same client, they only meet with the client when the finalists present their final pitches. This year the top two teams pitched to Outreach two weeks ago at Point Park’s Center for Media Innovation. Advertising professionals from each agency, as well as the client, judge the proposals and choose a winner. 

“I was incredibly impressed because it was a lot of work to complete in a less-than-eight-hour time frame,” Vu said. “To me, I was just so impressed by the caliber of work [the team] put out in such a short amount of time, and I kept thinking to myself, ‘Wow, students now are very different than from when I was in school.’”

Vu said this type of competition benefits students by offering an environment that mirrors the atmosphere of a day at an advertising agency.

“It’s very frequently the case where you would meet with a client and have to disseminate that information to a broader team,” Vu said. “Having a way to consolidate the information and present it in a way that everyone can understand is important.”

Belovich credits her practical education and experience with preparing her to successfully take on The Pitch as a junior.

“[Point Park advertising professors] focus more on the projects and what you produce over how you perform on a test,” Belovich said.

For their victory, the team will get to go to the annual “ADDY” (advertising awards) and have their resumes sent across the country to leading advertising firms.