PCA&D’s America250PA team places second in state competition

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Thursday, December 7th, 2023

Four members of The Agency team, together with their faculty advisor and College Fellow leaders traveled to the Pennsylvania State Capitol to compete in the America250PA marketing challenge. The team placed second with their Great American Melting Potluck concept and proposal during the fifth annual 2023 Direct Effect Innovation Challenge (DEIC), a multi-round competition that challenges students from post-secondary institutions across the Commonwealth to design and develop integrated marketing campaigns that explore solutions to real-life challenges and questions.

With their Great American Melting Potluck concept, the team aimed to create DIY community events across the state to bring cultures together to share food, stories, and document their experiences in zines. Team members were Graphic Design seniors Alyssa Rulli and Amanda Choong, Animation & Game Art junior Omar Almanzar, and Illustration junior Abel Wooddell. Their faculty advisor was Ellie Cochran ‘19, Graphic Design, and they were also guided by the two inaugural PCA&D Fellows, Alex Eggleston ‘23, Photography & Video, and Jas Stokes ‘23, Illustration.

Team members said they saw the competition as a great way to strengthen and test their skills, from public speaking and design concepts to testing out what agency life is like. 

“I personally have an interest in this sort of work,” Almanzar says. “Being able to market something and reach a broad audience or even bring people together through these communal, creative experiences is a passion of mine.”

“It sounded like an interesting chance to practice my public speaking and design skills,” says Choong, whose responsibilities in prepping for the competition ranged from brainstorming and writing and proofing the script to designing the slideshow theme, creating mock-ups, and building some physical parts of the campaign. 

Wooddell, who helped pitch the zine concept and created the campaign logo, says they got involved “to learn and experience firsthand what the art industry would be like.” They added that the DEIC competition helped them learn “how to work as a group with other people, and how to deliver a product with others.”

Rulli’s role included helping to edit and finalize the idea; organize, write, and edit scripts for the Round 2 video submitted to judges; and then helping with the presentation during the final competition. “I don’t think I would have ever envisioned myself standing behind that podium,” she adds. “This experience really opened my eyes to the realm of public speaking — I just needed to learn how to not let (nervousness) overcome me and to relax because we made it as far as we did.”

“I gained a better understanding of what goes into creating a campaign both physically and mentally,” Almanzar added. “I look forward to continuing this sort of work moving forward.”

PCA&D competed against four other postsecondary institutions — Ursinus College, King’s College, Rosemont College, and Westmoreland County Community College — and received the second-highest score from a judging panel of industry professionals. The first-place team was Ursinus College and Rosemont College placed third.

The 2023 DEIC consisted of three rounds: a campus round, a virtual second round, and an in-person final round at the Pennsylvania State Capitol Complex in Harrisburg, PA. This year’s theme—“Diverse Stories. Unique Communities. ONE Pennsylvania.”—challenged students to design and pitch original integrated marketing campaigns that showcase diverse stories and unique communities in the Commonwealth and aid in America250PA’s mission of engaging “every Pennsylvanian” in “every county.”