CU Texas Wins First Place at Sixth Annual National Student Marketing Competition

April 8, 2017 | Posted by Demian Farnworth

“They don’t need me. They’re all over-achievers,” said Spencer Maass, credit analyst at the Lutheran Church Extension Fund (LCEF) and mentor to Concordia University Texas, the team that took top honors in this year’s National Student Marketing Competition (NSMC).

Texas won first place last year, too.

Seniors Taylor Schmidt, Carlos Munoz, Jacqueline Knell and Race Mellman wowed the judges with a coordinated campaign built around direct mail ads, a web community for churches on and church maintenance tracking software.

To top it all off, Team Texas concluded with a Golden Hard Hat award to the best church facility manager, complete with a touching video celebrating the essential, but often forgotten, church role.

Overachieving would be an understatement.

Then again, that could have been said about all of the students who participated. Rich Robertson agreed: “They never disappoint. The intensity is always top level. We are in debt to them for all the great ideas.”

A day of top-level talent

The intensity started at 8:30 in the morning at the International Center, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod’s headquarters, when team Concordia St. Paul set the pace.

Eight more teams followed, just as intense:

  • Concordia College-New York
  • Concordia University Nebraska
  • Concordia University Ann Arbor
  • Concordia University Irvine
  • Concordia University Wisconsin
  • Concordia University Portland
  • Concordia University Chicago
  • Concordia University Texas

Each participating team developed a unique comprehensive campaign, taking advantage of LCEF’s regional structure to create a marketing campaign to increase Church Improvement Loan originations.

Second and third place winners

From the start, you knew Team Irvine was on to something.

Seniors Grant Worthington, Jesse Hall, Case Bruton, Alexis Martinez and Celina Stratton presented a comprehensive campaign involving two compelling videos (one with a starring role for LCEF’s CEO Rich Robertson); print ads (with the fantastic tagline: “and now a prayer for the roof fund”); an infographic; and a social media plan.

It’s no surprise they took second place.

“We have a saying around Irvine,” said Carolyn Shiery, Irvine’s advisor and sixth-year veteran of NSMC. “When someone is really good we say ‘You are so hired.’ Every single one of these students is ‘so hired.'”

Concordia College-New York took third place with a solid campaign called “Rooted in Faith, Growing Through Partnership.” The campaign centered on the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, urging church growth was essential to support the next 500 years.

Team New York also boasted the most international flair. Senior David MacKenzie is from Jamaica; Senior Valeriia Chebon is from Ukraine; Antoneta Syku, Albania; and Senior Samantha Sommer, New Hampshire.

“Unlike anything I’ve ever done”

Even if they didn’t win, every single student and advisor felt that the experience was first rate and worth the trip. Kristen Pearcy, senior at Concordia University Wisconsin said, “this was unlike anything I’ve ever done.”

“You get to fight through a real-life problem,” said Concordia University Portland senior Elie Ricker. “You get feedback. It’s a great experience.”

First-time advisor, Maria Battastoni from Concordia University Chicago, said, “This is an opportunity you just can’t pass up.”

And statements like this didn’t stop all day. No matter who you talked to, the value that this experience brought to each student was indispensable. Which is a pretty good indicator that we can all look forward to another very intense National Student Marketing Competition next year.

See you then.


Demian Farnworth
Senior Content Writer for the Lutheran Church Extension Fund.