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Agri-marketing team brings home national championship

The University of Wisconsin–Madison’s National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA) marketing team brought home the national championship on Thursday, April 14. The students also earned $5,500 in scholarships, out of a total $9,000 up for grabs among the 30 universities present at the competition, as well as a John Deere Award.

NAMA presentation team
The winning NAMA marketing team from left to right: Jordan Gaal, Erica Ballmer, Jaime Sawle, Kate Griswold, Sarah Fletcher Botham (NAMA advisor), Brandon Maly, Mariah Martin, Sydney Endres and Savannah Waller.

LSC is the UW–Madison NAMA student chapter’s department sponsor and one of LSC’s faculty members has advised the chapter since it was created in 1980. Faculty associate Sarah Botham is the current faculty advisor of the chapter and marketing team. The last time the NAMA chapter took first place was in 1996, under LSC’s Tom Schomisch, who retired in 2004 and sadly passed away last year.

“The students very much deserve this honor,” Botham said. “I really had a feeling that this year’s product and presentation were really extraordinary, and it’s great to see the students’ hard work pay off.”

A majority of the NAMA students are LSC majors, but the organization welcomes students from across the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. The NAMA marketing team is made up of 31 students, including eight on the marketing presentation team. Over an academic year, the students must come up with a product and create its entire marketing campaign. The students are responsible for everything from market and target audience research to promotional materials and even packaging design.

“Winning was unbelievable,” said Kate Griswold, an LSC senior and this year’s team leader. “When they announced that we won I ran over to Sarah and gave her a huge hug and began to tear up. There is a video of the results being announced on our Facebook page that really captures the moment. We knew we had a great product and presentation, but we were a little nervous after the final round, so that made the victory even sweeter.”

This year’s product, called CranBerrí, was a fictional dried cranberry product inspired by a naturally sweet and heart-healthy variety developed by researchers here at UW–Madison. The team used a “Heart of Cran” campaign with a “Lose the Tart, Help the Heart” tagline to enforce their strategies and tactics for making the product successful.

NAMA group

“It’s an extraordinary experience for our students because not only do they get to practice agri-marketing and meet a bunch of professionals, they are also networking with their peers,” Botham said. “This industry is so small that the possibility of you working with someone you met at a NAMA competition is actually pretty high so it’s always an exciting time.”

Griswold said that being part of LSC is a huge help when learning how to put together a marketing plan. Students from dairy science, animal science, and agronomy bring great perspectives to the group, but the LSC majors are able to bring the backbones of marketing and communication to the team.

“Whether it’s Sarah’s class or the classes on design and social media marketing, LSC has really given me the basics of what it takes to put together a campaign,” she said. “I’m able to combine all of that knowledge into NAMA, and it’s been great to bring that all together into this campaign.”

LSC alumna Linda Wenck (BS ’84) is a principal owner and director of corporate affairs and social responsibility at MorganMyers, a strategic communication firm in Waukesha, Wis. Wenck served as president of the NAMA chapter and won the marketing competition in 1984 when she was a student in LSC. She summed up her experience extremely well at this year’s Student and Donor Recognition Reception held Thursday, April 21.

“One of the best lessons I learned during my time here was that if I had a good idea but couldn’t communicate it, I didn’t have a good idea,” Wenck said. “The LSC curriculum prepares students extremely well to be successful in this industry.”