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Robertson Ad profs win $20K grant for fall marathon project

Jun 13, 2018

Posted in: News

By Tim Bajkiewicz, Ph.D., Assoc. Prof. and Assoc. Dir.

Robertson School advertising assistant professors Marcel Jennings (left) and Jay Adams, and the VCU Brandcenter's Ashley Sommardahl, won a $20,000 grant for a Fall 2018 student consulting marathon.
Robertson School advertising assistant professors Marcel Jennings (left) and Jay Adams, and the VCU Brandcenter's Ashley Sommardahl, won a $20,000 grant for a Fall 2018 student consulting marathon.

Two advertising faculty members in the VCU Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture and a VCU Brandcenter staff member won a $20,000 grant to run a marathon consulting session with student teams in Fall 2018.

Jay Adams and Marcel Jennings, both assistant professors of advertising in the Robertson School, teamed up with Ashley Sommardahl, the Brandcenter’s director of student affairs and industry outreach, to create "BC48."

Teams of Brandcenter and graduate VCU School of Business students will spend four days during the university’s fall break in October solving business and marketing problems for real, national clients, with an intense focus during the last 48 hours.

"Really excited about collaborating with students from so many different disciplines. Maybe some will be former Robertson School students who went on to the Brandcenter. That would really be special," Jennings said.

"BC48 will give students real world experience, a portfolio piece and the opportunity to work with cross-functional teams," Adams said.

The "EPIC Challenge" is part of the School of Business, which houses the Brandcenter, and takes its name from the School of Business’ strategic plan. Adams, Jennings and Sommardahl survived three rounds of what’s been called a "Shark Tank-like challenge" to win their share of the total $250,000 in prize money from the School of Business Foundation.

"At the Brandcenter, we have a long history of collaborating with local, national and global brands on their marketing challenges," Sommardahl said. "With BC48, we’re excited to pilot this new sprint model over fall break. It’s definitely representative of the way the most progressive agencies and brands are working today."

Adams and Jennings are both VCU Brandcenter alumni—Jennings graduated in 2000 and Adams in 2009. Jennings is also a 1998 graduate of the then-VCU School of Mass Communications with a concentration in copywriting.

"This is exactly the kind of project we love to see from our faculty—innovative teaching that will really make a difference,” Dr. Hong Cheng, School director, said. "It’s a great mixture of applying advertising and community outreach. Jay and Marcel continue to impress us all."

"It feels great being able volunteer and help give back to a school that made such a difference in our lives," Jennings said.