Program Dates


Media Scholars Program

  • Registration OpensNov 30
  • Qualifying RoundNov 30 - Feb 13
  • Case CompetitionFeb 27 - Mar 29
  • Media Scholars WeekJun 3-9
  • Networking ReceptionJun 8

Media Fellows Program

  • Application DueJul 14, 2017

Past Case Competitions

2014 The Campaign to Secure Public Funds to Bring NASCAR’s Signature Series to Sound Beach

Semi-finalists assumed the role of Carol Devin, a small business owner recently hired by a large sports and entertainment company to research and plan a media campaign for a ballot measure in Sound Beach. FAST, or Friends of a Sound Beach Track, is a group of developers and investors interested in building a motorsports racetrack and entertainment complex on the outskirts of Sound Beach.

However, despite the commitment from members of the business community and other developers, the project is still significantly short of raising the $1 billion needed to build the 400-acre complex. State legislators in favor of the project have proposed a bond initiative that would secure $500 million in public funds over 20-years for the construction of the racetrack, surrounding infrastructure and adjoining facilities. Known formally as Initiative Measure No. 3 and informally as I-3, appeared on the general election ballot on November 4, 2014.

FAST budgeted $7 million for the “Yes on I-3” campaign. Finalists sought to maximize the number of “NASCAR Fans” impressions while using their judgment regarding the appropriate mix of media vehicles.

2013 A New Baseball Stadium for the Central Coast Seabirds

Semi-finalist teams developed a $6.5 million media plan (for a five-month campaign) to generate public support for a new, waterfront, baseball stadium for the Central Coast Seabirds.

The hypothetical ad campaign was financed by Maria Adams, the owner of the Seabirds. Maria had in hand the financing and the approval of all other league owners except one (who had voted “present”). The missing pieces were the necessary zoning permits and authorizations from the Central Coast City Council. But before those votes and hearings were scheduled, Maria wanted to make sure there was public support in place.

2012 The “Yes” Media Plan for Proposition A

Thirty semi-finalist teams developed a $4 million media plan to promote a “Yes” vote on Proposition A. The hypothetical ad campaign was financed by the Pacific Coast City Cultural Association. The voters of Pacific City would go to the polls in six months to vote up or down on a $900 million bond issue to improve and endow the city’s cultural institutions.

The 2012 case inspired the closest competition in WMSF history. Judges made room for a seventh team to become finalists and participate in Media Scholars Week in Washington.

2011 Media Plan Case Competition

The 2011 registered teams developed a strategic media plan on behalf of Voters for Local Online Choice, an ad-hoc coalition that was urging a “no” vote in a referendum election. The main antagonist in the 2011 case study, Ryan Mellis, was tasked with developing the right mix of media (paid communications and advertising) to turn out the target voter.

Teams of two had $2 million to distribute prior to election day. A great deal of money, but nothing compared to the millions of dollars in government contracts at stake should Ryan not come through with a solid media plan.

2010 Media Plan Case Competition

2010 Media Plan Case Competition participants assumed the role of Jane Powell, the newly hired campaign manager for Gadget International, creating a media plan that they would submit to “Gadget’s senior management” for approval.

Before the narrative and creative portion of the advertising strategy could be discussed, “Jane” first needed an overall media plan and budget approved. With a budget of $1.5 million to $2.5 million, “Jane” created a month-by-month advertising strategy, which would tip the referendum under consideration in this low-turnout election, in her — and Gadget International’s — favor.

Written submissions were thoroughly evaluated and the top six media plans became the strategy teams’ tickets to Washington, DC and Media Scholars Week.