Talking Dog members from the Nebo Rescue Pledge team won the friendly competition for best campaign during Battle of the Brands in April 2023. Pictured left to right are: Angelina Leo, Hayden Martin, Katie Tanner, Laura Flores, Carson McAfee and
Brooke Evans. (Photo: Sarah E. Freeman)
Talking Dog Battle of the Brands
Talking Dog, the student-run advertising and public relations agency operated through Grady College, is gearing up for another new year and students are already thinking about the competition at the end of the season: Battle of the Brands.
During the academic year, each Talking Dog team works with local and national clients creating comprehensive campaigns through research, branding, design, messaging, website creation and more. The agency provides quality work, creative ideas and valuable Generation Z insights to clients, while each student learns valuable skills and begins establishing networks that help set them up for future success.
“I’m involved in Talking Dog because I want to work in an agency after graduation, and there’s no better place on campus to get real agency experience than Talking Dog,” said Ike Epstein, a fourth-year public relations major who is serving as one of the agency’s co-directors this year. Epstein was also on the Arby’s team, one of the final teams in the Battle of the Brands competition.
Mary Ellen Barto, Talking Dog agency manager, stresses that a huge advantage for students is developing future leadership skills.
“Talking Dog is an extraordinary opportunity for students to put all they are learning in the classroom into practice with external clients and experience how the process works firsthand,” Barto said. “But, they also experience agency life’s realities: building client relationships, selling ideas, working collaboratively and navigating challenges. It not only hones their technical skills but also develops the soft leadership skills that are critically important to success in their post-grad life.”
Lauren Buie, this year’s director of new business and client relations for Talking Dog, shares her thoughts on Talking Dog and Battle of the Brands.
In April, each team presents their work for the year. Three teams are selected to move ahead to the Battle of the Brands, a formal presentation in front of the entire agency and a panel of industry professionals who award one team the winner in this friendly competition.
Last spring, the final three teams worked on a branding campaign Arby’s seeking an untapped market, a public relations campaign to generate awareness for Nebo Rescue Pledge for pet adoption and a digital shopping campaign on Shopify for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, bringing together all their sports championship merchandise together under one umbrella.
“Working in a student lead agency with real clients taught me more than any classroom exercise ever could,” said Hayden Martin, a public relations and political science major who worked on the Rescue Pledge team, winner of the Spring 2023 Battle of the Brands. “I got a taste of life in an agency and how difficult, but rewarding it is. I am so glad that all of the hard work we put in throughout the year was noticed and we were able to win Battle of the Brands.”
Paw Print, an agency focused primarily on non-profit clients, was folded in with Talking Dog’s for-profit clients last spring and will continue doing work in collaborations with Talking Dog this coming year.
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