PRAD Students Earn Grand Prize in Page Case Study Competition

Two teams of Public Relations and Advertising graduate students from the College of Communication have earned high honors at the annual Arthur W. Page Society’s Case Study Competition in Corporate Communications.
Renata Sandor, Andrew Tonne and Maggie Christ were awarded the grand prize for their investigation into how the CVS chain divested themselves of carrying tobacco products in 2014. Their case study, “Cigarettes Out. Health In. An Analysis of the Rebrand of CVS Health”, examined CVS’s decision to end the sale of tobacco products in its stores and reform the company’s identity around a new slogan: Health is everything. Their research observed the changing business practices within CVS Health and how these affected not only the company’s bottom line but also the public’s perception of CVS as an organization.
Allie Kuopus, Sue Susenburger and Lily Kim took first place for their case study on General Motors, “General Motors’ Corporate Culture Crisis: An Assessment of the Ignition Switch Recall”. Their project examined the decision within GM to install low-quality ignition switches in their automobiles, a decision that led to $2.7 billion in legal fees and settlements, a recall of 2.6 million cars and 42 lives. The case study takes a look at how GM is working to rebuild their reputation and trust through corporate communications.
PRAD Professor Matt Ragas served as academic adviser on both student group case studies.
"I could not be more proud of our students,” said Ragas, who attended the ceremony with his students. “Maggie, Renata and Andrew really shined at the Page awards dinner. The Page Society membership represents the best of the best in our profession so for DePaul entries to be selected by the Page judges for two of the three top spots in the entire competition speaks very well nationally of our program and our students."
Sandor, Tonne and Christ attended the 30th Annual Page Spring Seminar in New York City where they were awarded the grand prize of the Jack Koten Page Principles Case Study Award at an awards dinner on April 9.
The significance of our students’ two wins at this year’s Page Society Case Study Competition is not to be underestimated.
“During my 20 years of membership in the Arthur Page Society, I’ve become conditioned to hearing this award presented annually to the likes of Notre Dame, Dartmouth, USC and other R1 schools,” said PRAD Professional Director Ron Culp. “So this is a very big deal for DePaul and within the public relations profession.”
For more information on the award-winning work both of our student groups researched and developed, see the project abstracts and full case studies below.
The entire College of Communication stands very proud of Renata, Andrew, Maggie, Allie, Sue and Lily and the stellar academic and professional inquiries they presented to the Arthur W. Page Society.

Cigarettes Out. Health In. An Analysis of the Rebrand of CVS Health
Authors: Renata Sandor, Andrew Tonne and Maggie Christ
Consumer demand for responsible business practices and corporate social responsibility has grown rapidly in recent years. Boldly inserting itself into this conversation, CVS Health ended its sale of tobacco products September of 2014. Additionally, CVS Health changed its name and slogan, claiming “health is everything.” This case study examines how CVS Health communicated the changes as well as the potential value in aligning “words and deeds” when it comes to corporate character. While the financial results of this change will become apparent over the next few years, the case study offers the initial public response and immediate business impact of this high-profile and corporate rebranding.
General Motors' Corporate Culture Crisis: An Assessment of the Ignition Switch Recall
Authors: Allie Kuopus, Sue Susenburger and Lily Kim
General Motors, one of the world’s largest automakers, has fallen under scrutiny surrounding an ignition switch recall that claimed $2.7 billion in charges, 2.6 million cars and 42 lives. New GM CEO, Mary Barra, is working to regain public trust and confidence through her candid public communications efforts, and to overturn the initial crisis of a corporate culture that once favored cost over the customer. This case study provides an assessment of Barra’s communications and actions regarding the redefinition of GM’s culture.

From the Event