This year’s winners of The North Bay Business Journal and Wells Fargo’s third annual 2017 Big Ad Challenge is Team United Nations from Santa Rosa Junior College, for their creative media campaign for the nonprofit Community Child Care Council of Sonoma County (4Cs).

The competition pairs a small business or nonprofit with marketing, advertising and graphic design students from local colleges- this year Sonoma State University, Dominican University and SRJC.

This year, 74 students were teamed with seventeen businesses, competing for an advertising package with North Bay Business Journal worth $25,000.

Winning students Mariola O-Young, Yuka Peng, Titi Wisanee, Sara Manjencic, and Toan Dinh, led by Instructor Kelly Windsor, presented a campaign that addressed 4Cs needs and met the budget guidelines for the competition.

Proposal writing, PowerPoint graphic design and nearly a month of rehearsals to prepare for the opportunity to sell their campaign strategy to judges at the Sonoma Mountain Village Events Center on Dec. 6 followed the fact-finding phase.

Judging the event were Brad Bollinger, publisher, North Bay Business Journal; Michael Zivyak, CEO, Sonoma Magazine; David Mitchell, SVP executive creative director; Candace Gainer, VP, Brand & Segments Integrated Marketing, Wells Fargo; and Chris Denny, president, The Engine is Red.

Ranking each team’s campaign on a scale from 1 to 10 in seven categories, judges looked for how prominent and consistent the client’s branding was portrayed; how visually arresting are the ad(s); how well did the design guide the reader through the ad; how well did the campaign meet the client’s business goals; along with their assessment of each team’s overall campaign and the entire presentation.

The winning presentation made the case that 4Cs was a match for the North Bay Business Journal as “Business owners/managers understand the connection between quality childhood education, family stability and productiveness in the workplace.”

Messages in the campaign included a caption on a boy in firefighter gear saying “Today’s kid, tomorrow’s hero.”

The ad campaign also included strategies for garnering donations on social media, emphasizing and investment in Sonoma County’s future generations.

It is the intention of North Bay Business Journal and Wells Fargo to have another Big Ad Challenge in 2018, with the call for nominations starting next summer.

Cynthia Sweeney covers health care, hospitality, residential real estate, education, employment and business insurance. Reach her at or call 707-521-4259.