Critical Links narrowly wins Drury ad contest

Wednesday, May 20, 2020
This ad for Critical Links was the winner of this year’s Drury ad contest, winning over the J&J Floorcoverings ad by a mere 23 votes. Contributed graphic

Out of 2,803 votes, only 23 separate winner

In the closest vote count ever recorded, Critical Links edged out J&J Floorcovering to win this year’s Drury ad contest — by 23 votes.

Out of the 2,803 total votes, Critical Links received 1,413, and J&J Floorcovering received 1,390. The contest ran from May 1 through May 11 on the story about the contest on

The next closest vote total was the inaugural contest in 2015 between The Bull Pen and Edgewood Creamery, where Edgewood gathered 370 votes and The Bull Pen earned 200. This year’s contest also saw the lowest number of votes cast since the 2015 installment.

The ads were created as part of a 16-week integrated marketing communications course taught by Joel Thomas at Drury's satellite campus in Monett, beginning in January. Students enrolled in the class were divided into two groups. Each group worked with an individual business to create an integrated marketing communication plan.

Thomas said he was excited to see how close the voting was.

“I loved seeing it,” he said. “I loved seeing the community interaction and the kids getting engaged. It’s a competition, and the kids know that business is their client and the goal is to produce the best marketing campaign.

“If one group blew it out of the water and the other was left in the wings, that’s one thing, but this was back and forth the whole way. I don’t even know how many lead changes there were. That’s what it’s about, and it focuses around getting real exposure for the businesses.”

Jonathan Baltzell, owner of Critical Links, said he was shocked to see how close the contest was.

“We were very excited to win, even if by such a slim margin, against a J&J team that also put together a good campaign.” he said. “I’m proud of my team and the ads they put together.”

Baltzell’s class marketing team included Omar Medrano, Eric Ibarra, Maria Aldaba, Juan Castillo, Alicia Deleon and Lesley Hernandez.

“It was a great experience [working with them],” he said. “I enjoyed giving them insight into how local small businesses operate, and I appreciate all the effort they put in.”

Thomas said the project is like a capstone piece for the students, and many shared the link with their friends and families not only so they could vote, but also to see the work they had done.

“It’s just a win-win for everyone,” Thomas said. “The Times and the radio were both very engaged, and that brings everyone all together.”

Thomas also said he appreciated the students, businesses and news organizations sticking with the program given everything going on surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This was the most trying class we had,” he said. “It would have been easy for the students to disengage and for The Times to say there were more important things going on, so I can’t thank everyone enough for hanging in there and seeing this through.”

Baltzell echoed the sentiment.

“We were affected by COVID-19 and we not able to do as much in-person collaboration, but the group came together with a great ad campaign despite those challenges,” he said. “I was excited to be selected this year and I appreciate the support of the team. I’m also excited to be able to connect even more customers to the internet than we have before and get the exposure that comes with the ads.

“I appreciate the support from Drury, The Times, the radio and the community for voting for us to win the competition.”

The J&J Floorcovering team, working with owner Jayne Terry included Ashton Ivy, Osvaldo Garcia, Karen Flores, Glory Mae Moss and Maria Reyes.

Additional participants were Brandon Kelley as graphic designer; Lisa Craft, general manager of The Monett Times; and Janet Gandy and Cathy Lewis, with Talon Media, who all provided professional input.

The marketing campaign built by the students is valued at $3,500. It includes three print and digital ads for The Monett Times and Connection Magazine, three radio commercials for Talon Media in Aurora, plus a press release for mass distribution. The print and digital ads will run in The Monett Times for two weeks. Radio commercials will air for one month. The press release will go to area media outlets.

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