Each year, the American Advertising Federation (AAF) hosts their National Student Advertising Competition, where they partner with a corporate client to challenge college students across the country to develop an integrated marketing campaign for a specific product. This year’s corporate client was Snapple, who provided the college teams with a case study outlining the objective of the marketing campaign, the history of the product, and the current advertising situation, all based on a current real-world situation facing the company.

This year, Snapple challenged the student teams to revitalize the brand’s image, and boost sales, in the increasingly competitive ready-to-drink beverage category. Student teams needed to research the product and its competition, identify potential problem areas, and create a multi-pronged, fully integrated marketing campaign for Snapple.

Advertising campaign for Snapple

At the University of Virginia (Charlottesville, VA), the McIntire Business School’s “Promotions” class entered this year’s competition, along with over 150 other teams from universities around the country.  The UVA team created a fresh approach in their advertising campaign for Snapple. If Snapple could no longer successfully compete on its “all-natural” claims (“Made from the best stuff on Earth”), then the students asked: Why not find a way to leverage other real, appealing qualities that resonate with loyal Snapple consumers?

With their advertising campaign, entitled “That’s the stuff!”, the students first gathered over 5,000 individual data points from surveys, one-on-one interviews, in-store observations, and focus groups. From this data, they ascertained that what loyal consumers really like about Snapple is the experience of consuming the beverage, centered around it’s unique product attributes: the pop of the cap, the “real fact” printed inside each cap, the glass bottle, and the wide variety of flavors. The UVA team laid out a clear market plan focusing on these “little moments” using traditional media, point-of-sale promotions, social and digital platforms, and partnerships with complementary brands.

Find the "little moments" in facial expressions

The UVA team excelled in particular in their blending of traditional methodologies with the latest research technologies. Noldus Consulting was on hand to provide the students with FaceReader™, technology that can automatically analyze the emotion displayed on the face on a frame-by-frame basis. Participants were presented with several examples of every day moments, such as imagining finding a $5 bill, winning a game of rock-paper-scissors, or catching a small candy in their mouths. While experiencing these little moments, FaceReader recorded and analyzed their facial expressions.

Participants were then asked to “pop the cap” on a Snapple bottle, or containers of other ready-to-drink beverage competitors. FaceReader detected similarly happy facial reactions to popping open a Snapple as they did during the little moments; these same expressions were not captured during opening competitors’ bottles.


With this fantastic presentation, the UVA Promotions team won first place overall, out of over 150 teams, and also won the Best Research Award, in large part due to the use of innovative technology in their research. Noldus congratulates these students on putting together such an excellent campaign, and was thrilled to be a part of the project.