Congratulations to the 2017 Spring Collegiate MAXI Winners

On March 31, students from George Mason University, Christopher Newport University, Radford University, and the University of Maryland competed for honors in the Spring 2017 Collegiate MAXI Oral Case Competition.

The Challenge

The challenge came from the American Red Cross, which noted, “Many people associate the American Red Cross with only large scale disaster relief… However the American Red Cross also supports individuals and families across the country in ‘local’ disaster relief such as home fires, floods, and other localized natural or weather related events.”

From these facts, the American Red Cross invited Collegiate MAXI participants to “Design a marketing campaign to educate these large scale disaster donors, as well as new potential donors, about the wide-reaching work of the American Red Cross. Utilize a mix of appropriate direct marketing channels with the goal of creating a pool of loyal and ongoing donors to support the American Red Cross and the hundreds of thousands of individuals and families they support.”

The Judges

In attendance and participating as a judge was Selma Bouhl, VP Marketing Strategy and Creative Services at the American Red Cross. Joining Selma on the judging panel were Michael Clayton, American University; Marilyn Liebrenz-Himes, George Washington University; DMAW/EF President Rick Powell, PMG; Courtney Lewis, CCAH; Scott Huch, The Delta Group; Janet Tonner, CDR Fundraising Group; and Nancy Scott, Liberty Communications Group.

The Gold

(l to r) DMAW/EF President Rick Powell, Alex Fagan, Bianca Bonilla, GMU Professor Betsy Tretola, Colin Ceresa, Jake Doiron, and Selma Bouhl, VP Marketing Strategy and Creative Services at American Red Cross.

George Mason University made the most of its maiden voyage to the DMAW/EF Collegiate MAXIs, capturing first-place Gold. Working under the guidance of faculty advisors Jeff Kulick and Betsy Tretola, team members Alex Fagan, Bianca Bonilla, Colin Ceresa, and Jake Doiron devised an integrated marketing communications plan to convert both large scale one-time donors and new donors to consistent monthly giving. Because the American Red Cross responds to a family affected by a home fire or other emergency every 8 minutes, the team developed an “Every 8 Counts” campaign, using a series of personal stories to establish loyalty and emotional connection with donors.

This campaign identified Baby Boomers, Millennials, and previous donors on the American Red Cross house list as target markets with whom to build loyalty. Channels designed to connect these donors with personal stories of people assisted by the American Red Cross included social media (particularly Facebook), email, and direct mail.

The Silver

Radford University and Christopher Newport University tied for second-place.
The Radford team of Jamie Pugh, Emily Harrell and Blake Newberry (not present for the completion) worked with faculty advisor Dr. Maneesh Thakkar. This team also sought to appeal to prospective donors by emphasizing that house fires, floods, and natural disasters affect U.S. citizens every eight minutes. To reach Millennials and generation Z, Radford proposed a series of YouTube advertisements to expose teens and young adults to the importance of donating. Past donors were targeted with a flier designed to remind donors that the American Red Cross needs support throughout the year for fighting smaller scale disasters nationally.

The Christopher Newport Team proposed a #CodeRed campaign to demonstrate the urgency that the American Red Cross faces every day. To reach college students, team members Sheridan Suminski, Lisa Amato, Maxwell Horner, and Raquel Greeley envisioned a strategic social media campaign using hashtags #CodeRed and #WeAllBleedRed, with donations collected via an individualized “donor dashboard.” In addition, the effort sought to build upon a fraternity-sponsored #CodeRed College showdown.

Also Showing Well…

The University of Maryland team focused its campaign on three stages of donor development: Opt-in, priming, and conversions. Team members Angelina Bingei, Meg Goh, Rachel Hobble, and Hannah Hsieh devised a generalized marketing campaign. Print ads and mailers sought to reach “Everyday Heroes,” particularly Millennial Moms. Facebook and banner ads were proposed for the opt-in stage, along with a video campaign on Facebook for priming and email and interactive magazine ads for the conversion stage. Snack box subscriptions, branded tees, online gaming charities, display ads at bus stops, and sweepstakes were proposed to reach young, unmarried Millennials.


Thank you to Quad/Graphics for hosting our event!