May 20, 2018
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NESCom students edged out in Honda marketing campaign

Gabor Degre | BDN
Gabor Degre | BDN
New England School of Communications students Ally Booker, left, Beth Churchill, center, and Kristen Sprague recently were named semi-finalists in the national Honda CR-Z Media Challenge. The automaker gave several schools a new car to be used in a marketing plan and advertising campaign designed by the students. Much to the sadness of many at NESCOM the car will be shipped back next week. (Bangor Daily News/Gabor Degre)
By Judy Harrison, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — Marketing students at the New England School of Communications made their pitch this week to Honda executives in Los Angeles, but a team from a high-profile university in New York beat them out for the top spot.

NESCom, Syracuse University and the University of La Verne in La Verne, Calif., were the national finalists chosen to pitch their media plans for Honda’s new hybrid sports car, the CR-Z, to company executives, public relations experts and journalists.

Here’s the NESCom pitch:

Syracuse beat out the other two schools, Nancy Roberts, who teaches marketing at NESCom, said Thursday after the group returned from three days in California.

“Judges in their critiques said the winning university’s team members were better able to explain their rationale for why they chose the marketing plan they did than our students were,” she said.

The Syracuse campaign is explained here:

NESCom students, however, were not disappointed in the outcome.

“The trip to L.A. was a blast, and even though we didn’t win, we were still happy to be competing with one of the top communications schools in the entire country, Syracuse,” student Kristen Sprague, 21, of Glenburn said Thursday in an e-mail. “We received some amazing feedback from the prestigious panel of judges. They were blown away by the work we’d done and are looking forward to working with us as interns.”

Students on every team that made it to the finals will work for Honda next semester as virtual interns.

“I think we would all agree that it was very gratifying to know that we could hold a conversation with public relations professionals,” Sprague said. “It was an amazing trip and an experience that we’ll never forget, and that is sure to benefit us.”

The challenge from American Honda Motor Co. Inc. was to create a six-week campaign using social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Flickr to promote the company’s first hybrid sports car. NESCom students in Nancy Roberts’ marketing class created a spokesman, C.R. Zazzy, to represent the product.

Roberts said she would like to see her students take on a similar challenge again.

“It was a great way for students to apply what they were learning in the classroom,” she said.

The judges in Los Angeles included Steven Center, vice president of national marketing operations; Kurt Antonius, assistant vice president for public relations; and Alicia Jones, assistant manager of social media, all from Honda; Ron Hartwig, vice president of communications for the J. Paul Getty Trust; and Jerry Swirling, director of public relations studies, Annenberg School of Communication at the University of Southern California.

For more information about the students’ media campaign, visit To learn more about NESCom, go to

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