UVA Ad Team Scores Best Research Award (Assist to Dialsmith)

UVA Overlay

Sometimes when corporate and academic research collide, really cool things happen. One such case is a project by the esteemed University of Virginia (UVA) McIntire School of Commerce and their student advertising competition efforts. For the second year in a row, Dialsmith has had the privilege to work with their ad team, and this year they took top marks for research—a category near and dear to our hearts! Here’s how it went down and how UVA’s team was able to leverage our technology to reveal critical moments of truth that helped them refine their advertising and keep their messaging on target.

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Client: University of Virginia McIntire School of Commerce

Located: Charlottesville, VA

Background: The distinguished McIntire School of Commerce at the University of Virginia (UVA) offers a competitive advertising class to seniors. Students must be accepted to participate in the program. UVA Associate Professor of Marketing Carrie Heilman heads up the program. Students admitted to the program spend two semesters designing an integrated marketing communications campaign to submit for the American Advertising Federation (AAF) National Student Advertising Competition (NSAC). Each year, AAF works with a major corporate partner to host the competition; this year’s corporate partner was Pizza Hut. 

Among 200 college chapters across the country, UVA’s team has consistently performed very well in the competition—regularly winning or placing in the top of its division as well as placing in the top five nationally. 

Project: The students from UVA worked as a mock advertising agency to produce an integrated marketing campaign proposal and 20-minute presentation. Pizza Hut was the partner for this year’s NSAC and challenged the student ad teams to come up with a campaign to get millennial consumers to order pizza via its digital channels rather than over the telephone.


“Dialsmith’s partnership has been invaluable in helping my students learn about marketing research and in providing Virginia Advertising a competitive advantage at the NSAC competition”
– UVA Associate Professor of Marketing Carrie Heilman

Working with Dialsmith and utilizing our Perception Analyzer Online solution, the UVA team conducted an online survey as well as online dial testing to gather feedback on their messaging, find out how Millennials responded in-the-moment to the 30-second spot they developed, and gauge if the team was on target for meeting its campaign goals. The students were able to test the ad in the production phase to determine if the messaging and spokesperson resonated with the viewers before convincing the client that it would deliver on the campaign’s objectives. Heilman commented, “Dialsmith provided us with valuable tools that allowed us to test our advertising at a time in the process when we still have an opportunity to revise our ads based on the research findings.”

Using Dialsmith’s methods and tools, the UVA team was able to determine that the viewers were not connecting with original spokesperson they had selected. By testing during the production phase, they were able to remove this spokesperson in the final version. Testing results also confirmed the tagline and overall campaign messaging in the ad were effective and led to increased favorability toward Pizza Hut and the product feature.

UVA Dialsmith results

Thanks to the team’s great work, the UVA campaign won the Best Research Award and placed second overall in its division. Added Heilman, “Dialsmith’s partnership has been invaluable in helping my students learn about marketing research and in providing Virginia Advertising a competitive advantage at the NSAC competition. I can’t say enough about the Dialsmith team, their professionalism, their expertise in their field, and the resources they provided us.”