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Win It campaign does just that
Souths DECA team takes marketing prize
South Forsyth High School Principal Jason Branch joined students, from left, Farina Irani, Rose Freitag and Lauren Schuster after they won a DECA contest. - photo by Submitted
After months of research and preparation, a team of South Forsyth High School students made its final marketing pitch to Cousins Properties, developer of The Avenue Forsyth.

The team’s social marketing campaign beat out four other finalists in the largest bid of the seniors’ young careers.

“This experience has given us a taste of what it’s going to be in the future,” said Lauren Schuster.

Added teammate Farina Irani, “It’s probably going to be the best feeling just to see it in action.”

Irani, Schuster and Rose Freitag made up one of 39 teams in the interactive marketing development campaign contest sponsored by the state education department and Cousins Properties.

The contest asked DECA students from five high schools to put together a marketing campaign after researching the behaviors and social media habits of shoppers in their target markets.

DECA is a high school marketing organization that encourages the development of business and leadership skills.

In addition to South Forsyth, the competition featured teams from Grayson, Kennesaw Mountain, Lassiter and Whitewater high schools, all of which have an Avenue property in their districts.

The schools each fielded several teams, which were narrowed to one finalist. Those teams made their closing pitch Tuesday.

South Forsyth’s “Win It” campaign was a three-part approach.

It called for offering $5 gift cards to become a fan of The Avenue on a social networking Web site and a video contest focusing on a shopper’s experience at the outdoor mall on Peachtree Parkway.

Also included was texting for promotions and discounts.

The contest was not South Forsyth High School’s first partnership with the nearby Avenue, said DECA teacher Debra Moore.

“Until this point, we were actually the only high school that they had ever worked with,” she said. “I was very confident, but I knew that the other high schools had some strong teams as well, so it was a pleasant surprise.”

Megan Jurkovic, marketing manager for the local mall, said the company will determine which elements of the program fit best with its goals.

“South Forsyth High School’s winning team showed a deep understanding of The Avenue brand and was able to articulate specifically how each of our marketing objectives would be accomplished,” Jurkovic said.

“The team presented real-life examples of how the campaign would be executed and its success would be measured, and the judges saw a strong opportunity to apply the strategy.”

For their efforts, all finalists received a $100 gift card to any of the shopping center’s retailers, and a $500 grant toward their DECA programs.

Members of South’s winning team each received an additional $250 scholarship and $1,500, which Schuster said they would split evenly.

The prizes were nice, but Freitag said it’s more about the experience.

“It has taught me about what it is to work in the real world, working as a team, coming up with ideas and presenting them in a professional setting to a real life board room,” she said.

“It was a great experience to further help us learn about what it’s like in the real business world.”