University of Texas at Austin Wins Ad-​ology Marketing Research Award

Barry Shawgo, Vice President of Sales for Ad-ology Research, presents the 2014 NSAC Marketing Research Award trophy and $1,000 check to the student team from the University of Texas at Austin. (Photo by Scott Van Osdol.)

Barry Shawgo, VP of Sales for Ad-​ology Research, presents the 2014 NSAC Marketing Research Award trophy and $1,000 check to the student team from the University of Texas at Austin. (Photo by Scott Van Osdol.)

The National Student Advertising Competition (NSAC) team from the University of Texas at Austin earned the Ad-​ology Research Award for Best Use of Marketing Research during this year’s American Advertising Federation (AAF) national conference held May 28–31 in Boca Raton.

The NSAC gives college students a near real-​world experience of creating an integrated marketing campaign for a real client. This year’s client was Mary Kay Cosmetics.

For the fifth year, the Ad-​ology Research Award was presented to the team that best demonstrated the use of any source of market research in the development of their campaigns. Eight finalists out of 140 teams across the country competed at this year’s conference.

This was an interesting research journey because late in the fall semester, the team determined that research clearly indicated they had been focusing on the wrong target,” John H. Murphy II, faculty advisor for the team, explained. “This unexpected turn of events caused the team to refocus and launch into a second wave of data collection against their refined target. When asked during Q/​A in the competition how strategy was formed or influenced by research, the team answered all of their research led to strategy.”

The winning team consisted of 46 seniors from the University of Texas at Austin, who worked on the Mary Kay project during the fall and spring semesters. They used a wide range of research methodologies, which included 229 secondary sources, online questionnaire research, phone interviews, focus groups, and attendance at live Mary Kay events.

The quality of work put out by some of these teams rivals many professional agencies,” said C. Lee Smith, president/​CEO of Ad-​ology Research and former NSAC participant. “You can see the value of taking what they’ve learned in the classroom and applying it directly to a real-​world scenario.”

As a research partner for the annual competition, Ad-​ology provides access to its database of market research reports to all competing teams. The winning team receives a trophy and a $1,000 check for their student ad club.


Ad-​ology Research focuses on marketing research for local advertising, digital marketing and audience optimization. The company is best known for its national and local AudienceSCAN studies, as well as the Small Business Marketing Forecast. Ad-​ology also provides a free compilation of daily briefs at Ad​-ology​.com, the Marketing Forecast video podcasts on YouTube, and the Ad-​ology smartphone app for Apple iPhone, iPad and Google Android devices. Ad-​ology Research is a division of Sales Development Services (SDS), Inc. – a Westerville, Ohio firm founded in 1989.


Through the National Student Advertising Competition (NSAC), the premier student advertising competition in the nation, students from across the country are challenged to develop high-​level integrated marketing campaigns for some of the country’s most recognizable brands. Each year a corporate sponsor provides a case study of its current advertising situation to challenge students’ critical thinking abilities and creativity.