CU Texas Takes Top Honors at LCEF’s 2018 National Student Marketing Competition

April 16, 2018 | Posted by Demian Farnworth

The team from Concordia University Texas, Austin, won Lutheran Church Extension Fund’s (LCEF) seventh annual National Student Marketing Competition (NSMC), held April 13 at the Concordia University Chicago campus.

Seniors Madeline Guayante, Carlos Munoz, Ben Balen and Carrie Brown wowed the judges with a confident, fluid, fact-filled presentation. Highlights of their campaign included live chats with young missionaries, a money-tracking dashboard and an advice service called “Adulting with Kevin.”

This is the third first-place finish for Texas in as many years. Munoz was a member of last year’s team.

The deceptively simple assignment

Two months before competition day, LCEF issued a marketing assignment to six Concordia University System schools—Chicago; Seward, Neb.; Austin, Texas; New York; St. Paul and Portland. The assignment asked the teams to create a marketing campaign that would persuade young investors to re-invest in LCEF when they aged out of their Young Investors StewardAccount® at 19.

Concordia New York secured second place with a campaign called “Investing Today Because Stewardship Is Ageless.” Their objective was to raise awareness of LCEF, as well as increase financial literacy, among Lutheran students through a combination of digital tools like smartphone apps and traditional means such as radio commercials and in-person workshops.

Jerry Carrino, assistant professor and advisor to team New York, confessed the assignment wasn’t as straightforward as it seemed. “It wasn’t until we started digging in that we realized that this was going to be more complicated than expected.”

New York also won the Spirit Award—given to the team who shows the most sportsmanship throughout the competition and on social media. In addition, New York held the unique distinction of being the most ethnically diverse team with representatives from Sweden (Kristel Kalm); Albania (Antoneta Skyu); India (Bianca Mark); and California (Jenny Martin).

During the award ceremony, Concordia New York President Rev. Dr. John Nunes surprised the students with a visit.

Third place went to Concordia, St. Paul. Unique to their campaign was a focus on gamifying an LCEF smartphone app. Gamification is the practice of applying game playing techniques (scoring points and competing with others) to non-game contexts. The idea is to encourage engagement with the product and peers.

New location, new talent

This year’s event included another unique distinction: being held at Concordia Chicago, a 40-acre suburban campus 10 miles west of downtown Chicago. The last six NSMC events have been held at the LCMS International Center in St. Louis.

Concordia Chicago senior Malachi Allgood said, “I was thrilled when I heard that they were bringing it to Chicago. This is a lot of fun to have all the schools come to our place.” Allgood was on the Chicago team last year.

Founded in 1864 as a college for teachers, today Concordia, Chicago, is a comprehensive university offering more than 100 undergraduate and graduate degrees, as well as doctoral degrees. More than 5,000 students are currently enrolled. Fred E. Lietz, LCEF’s first president and CEO, attended the university when it was Concordia Teachers College.

Throughout the day, Elisabeth Dellegrazie, an assistant professor at the school, invited her business and marketing classes to watch the competition. Dr. Claudia Santin, dean of the college of business, attended as well.

“I’m so pleased with this partnership,” Santin said. “It is phenomenal.”

About the role he played as team advisor for Chicago, Russell Zage said, “I just let them lead. This was their project and their presentation. This was all them.” Zage is assistant professor of business administration at Chicago.

Asked if there was additional pressure given they were the host, the Chicago team said no. “We had the advantage of hosting it here on our campus and we got to practice in this auditorium, but we were still messing up,” Emily Johnson said. “At the end of the day, it was a presentation.”

The competition started on Friday at 8:30 a.m. sharp inside the Christopher Center lecture hall, the largest classroom on campus. Each team had 20 minutes to present and ten minutes to answer questions from the judges.

This year’s judges included Lori Hackett (associate director of public affairs at Lutheran Hour Ministries); Jeff Maltz (district vice president of Kansas and Oklahoma); Robyn Streck (LCEF’s customer relations director); and Paul Wills (vice president of marketing – Michigan Church Extension Fund).


Second Place: Concordia College-New York
Third Place: Concordia University St. Paul
Demian Farnworth
Senior Content Writer for the Lutheran Church Extension Fund.