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Win marks first time a United States team has claimed the top prize

After only the second year competing, the Brigham Young University Ad Lab has won the international finals of the L'Oreal Brandstorm competition.

The team of Ad Lab students, Blake Hadley, Matt Miller and Monica McGhie, led by faculty adviser and Ad Lab director Jeff Sheets, swept the June 10 competition in Paris with their clever campaign for a sun care product, winning both the top prize and the "Best Communications Campaign."

"Everybody that competed had such great presentations, it was a big surprise for us to win both awards," Hadley said. "It was neat to see all of the different cultures working on the same project."

The Ad Lab beat out teams from 38 countries in the Paris finals to become the first team from the United States to win the international competition in its 16-year history.

The Ad Lab designed a sleek package for a Vichy Capital Soleil sun care product and engineered a marketing campaign retooling commonly heard anti-drug public service messages into sun-protection messages.

Hadley said the team wanted to promote a sun care product that fits the lifestyle of 13 to 25 year olds while maintaining Vichy's tradition of clinically proven methods.

Besides the honor of being named the best, the Ad Lab students were awarded €10,000 (about$15,500) to use on a trip to any destination in the world.

"This has been a really neat experience," Sheets said from Paris after the win. "You've got students from universities in 38 countries working just as long and just as hard to compete and win. Truly this is a worldwide event."

BYU's team placed ahead of finalists from Cambridge University in the United Kingdom, the National University of Singapore and Universidad Catolica Argentina.

To make it to the international competition, the Ad Lab placed first in April's national competition in New York City. It was the second year in a row that BYU's Ad Lab has represented the United States in the international finals in Paris. Last year's Ad Lab team won "Best Communications Campaign," but did not place in the overall competition.

Each year, the Brandstorm competition gives undergraduate students the opportunity to take on the role of brand manager and revamp one of L'Oreal's signature product lines. This year's case study was Vichy Capital Soleil, a line of sun care products for women, men and children.

To date, a total of 31,617 students from 470 schools and 39 countries have participated in the L'Oreal Brandstorm competition. The event is in its 16th year.