Kent State team participating in Chipotle contest

Jackie Valley

A burrito, a video camera and a group of Kent State students could mean $20,000.

Kent State is one of 22 universities nationwide chosen to participate in Chipotle’s first-ever advertising contest, said Crickett Karson, Midwest spokeswoman for Chipotle.

Each participating college can field two teams with each team submitting up to three, 30-second television spots.

The winning school receives a grand prize totaling $20,000: $10,000 split among the team members and $10,000 to the university.

Under the supervision of David Smeltzer, assistant professor of electronic media production, Kent State’s video field production class is entering the contest as a team.

“Chipotle is looking for creative or innovative spots,” Karson said.

All entries will be used in a viral campaign on the Internet, and the winning submissions will be used at the company’s discretion, she explained.

Smeltzer is using the Chipotle contest as a substitute for a project in which his video field production students have to create an advertising campaign for actual clients.

“I think this is a great way for students to learn,” Smeltzer said. “Even if they don’t win, their work will get a lot of exposure with a national company.”

Although his class is entering as one team, the students split into three groups to make three separate 30-second spots.

However, the class decided that if the Kent State team wins, the group responsible for making the winning spot will split the money, Smeltzer said.

“So far, (the teams) have done research, written scripts, and they are beginning shooting this week,” he said.

The students are applying the skills they have been taught in class, Smeltzer explained, and will be graded on impact of visuals, graphics and audio tracks.

Karson cited one of the main reasons behind the advertising contest is that many Chipotle customers are college students.

Describing Chipotle as a “21st century kind of company,” Karson said, “It’s a witty company founded by younger people.”

“They are always looking for new ways to market with an interest in cutting-edge marketing plans,” she said.

Mark Valley, a member of Kent State’s team, agrees with Chipotle’s marketing strategy.

“I think it’s a really good idea for Chipotle to get students’ perspectives for advertising,” said Valley, senior electronic media production major.

So far, his group has been working on preliminary scripts to match Chipotle’s target audience as well as its creative standard for commercials.

Even so, Valley said it helps to be a Chipotle fan.

“When you’re making a commercial for anything, it’s good to be supportive of the product,” he said.

The Kent Chipotle was the 37th restaurant in the chain to be built and is consistently about the 10th largest grossing restaurant in the chain nationwide, Smeltzer said.

“The numbers differ every week, but Kent is always at the top,” said Elizabeth Gaeta, who is in charge of local store marketing for Chipotle in Toledo, Cleveland and Youngstown.

Other participating colleges in Ohio include Case Western Reserve University and the University of Dayton, Karson said.

All entries are due Oct. 20, and the winners will be named Nov. 3.

Contact news correspondent Jackie Valley at [email protected].