High school students tackle Spotify brief for 4A's competition

See the winning presentations from the latest ReACT competition.

There’s a lot more to crafting a winning ad campaign than writing and filming a 30-second spot, a sobering reality that many aspiring ad executives don’t learn until college.

To help prepare the next generation of Ogilvys and Bernbachs, the American Association of Advertising Agencies six years ago developed its ReACT competition, a chance for high school students to build an entire campaign for a real brand, from research to strategy to media plan to partnership recommendations.

On March 17, students from two New York schools—the Manhattan Early College School for Advertising (MECA) and the High School for Innovation in Advertising and Media (IAM)—gathered at the offices of two New York agencies—J. Walter Thompson and DigitasLBi—to present their work for this year’s competition.

The brief was to develop a holistic marketing proposal for the Spotify Premium for Family Plan. The service, set at $14.99 for six accounts, directly competes with the family plans for Apple Music and Google Play Music. The objective? Position Spotify as a service that "enables families to express both their togetherness and the individuality."

"We want to be perceived as the most relevant family music service with a general understanding of the role that music plays in the family life," said the brief. A real-life campaign based on the same brief and crafted by Spotify’s in-house creative team will be launching in the UK in May.

As her group practiced their pitch, Chelsea Creendal, a bespectacled 15-year-old MECA student with an air of self-assurance and all-black outfit, said she was feeling the "good kind of nervous." Like the other students, she had spent the last two-and-a-half weeks working on her presentation.

Al Benoit, industry education liaison for the 4A's, said the competition is a chance for the students to build their confidence and gain some valuable experience. And because the schools cater to diverse students, the competition represents an opportunity to "tap into future leaders that will enhance the industry with a diversity of thought," he said. "If we don't start early, it probably won't transpire."

Three winners were chosen from both locations. The teams that took second and third place won portable speakers, headphones and Spotify subscriptions, while the teams that took first place will get a tour of Spotify, and see the actual creative behind the UK campaign.


First place
"Young MC’s": Jordan Crayton, Marc Diaz, Jaida Roberts, Elise Slaughter, Jhamlyn Vasquez

Second place
"FFTY" (Femme Fresher Than You): Tyana Bryan, Akethia Arthurs, Kiyah Gibbs, Jaelene Santiago, Mileena Sumler, Ocean Valentine

Third place
"#1": Nicole Nelson, Fatty Niang, Tshering Ome, Victoria Ervin


First place
"The League of Advertisement": Elijah Callahan, Harmony Callazo, Gregory Barco, Kerwin Williams, Joshua Henry, Dario St. Fleur and Marc Antoine

Second place
"The Kage": Dante Garner, Jacob Matthews, Jimmel Warrick, Paul Williams, Diana Florissant, Selina Pope

Third place
"Mercy": Kerisha Murray, Jameelah Saleh, Heavenly Robinson, Requya Khaled, Zanobe Mosleh and Warryn Nicholson

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