John Egan

Students at 20 US colleges are aiming to be in the driver’s seat for a Honda marketing campaign targeted at young motorists.

Dozens of students are competing in this year’s Honda Civic Marketing Challenge, which is run by EdVenture Partners. The goal: Rev up interest in the 2013 Honda Civic sedan among Generation Y consumers. Given that demographic, the students’ campaigns surely will emphasize digital marketing and certainly will incorporate cutting-edge techniques that’ll be discussed at the upcoming ad:tech conference in San Francisco.

The 20 schools picked for the Honda contest are:

  • Boston College.
  • California Polytechnic State University.
  • California State University, Fullerton.
  • East Carolina University.
  • Florida International University.
  • Georgia State University.
  • Gonzaga University.
  • Illinois State University.
  • Johns Hopkins University.
  • Kansas State University.
  • Michigan State University.
  • New York University.
  • Oklahoma State University.
  • Texas A&M University.
  • University of Connecticut.
  • University of Houston.
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
  • USC.
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison.
  • Virginia Tech.

“Our goal is to present the Honda Civic as a cool vehicle,” University of Houston student Ronald Sampson told his school’s newspaper. “We are trying to get young people to want to buy the car.”

Teams from three of the schools will be chosen to present their marketing campaigns to executives at Honda’s US headquarters in Southern California. Honda has given each team $3,000 to assemble its campaign.

John Hopkins student Malena Silva told the Johns Hopkins News-Letter that Honda has instructed her school’s team to boost on-campus interest in the 2013 Honda Civic sedan, generate a “viral buzz” around the car and create a perception of Honda as “a fun, youthful and hip brand.”

According to New York University, the winning team will receive $5,000 from Honda, with $3,000 going to the second-place team and $1,000 to the third-place team. Elements of the winner’s campaign may be rolled into Honda’s national marketing initiatives.

“Working on the Honda Civic challenge has given us a great opportunity to apply the concepts we learned in class to a real-world business scenario,” Illinois State student Kevin Frieh is quoted as saying on the university’s website.

The University of Pittsburgh took first place in last year’s Honda marketing competition, with Gonzaga and USC tying for second.

“Through programs like this, Honda gets all the research information they need through students for about a third of what they would pay if they were working with an advertising agency,” Charlie Thorp, who advises the University of Houston’s team, told the school newspaper.

This article is part of Allvoices’ series on ad:tech, the largest, longest-running digital marketing and technology event. Check out for more of Allvoices’ ad:tech coverage. This series is supported by ad:tech.