Advertising Campaigns Brings Real Agency Experience to Students

It’s time for small businesses to bounce back from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, starting with our local businesses and Marketing Smarts: Advertising Campaigns.

Many small businesses took a big hit from the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 41.3% of businesses reported that they were temporarily closed because of COVID-19.

Marketing Smarts: Advertising Campaigns is a project that connects students from Professor Llewellyn-Williams’ ADV 129 course, Advertising Campaign Planning and Management, to local businesses, where the students advise the businesses on how they can grow their business through marketing and advertising plans.

Students from ADV129 presents their visual take on the District 3 Community Leadership Council.

This is how it starts: the community-engaged learners, or the SJSU students, are split into teams of four. Each team member has a title, such as Account Manager,  as they would in an actual advertising agency. They’re aware of what they’re about to get into but they don’t know who their clients are until…

CommUniverCity jumps in and connects local businesses or community clientele to the university students.

Forest and Flour, Ren Connection, and the District 3 Community Leadership Council were the lucky clients of Fall 2020 that got to connect with bright and creative advertising students eager to develop brand campaigns and strategies for their clients.

As they act as consultants, the community-engaged learners’ first task was to find out all they could about their client. What are the business strengths and weaknesses? Opportunities and threats? They even needed to find out about the history of the company or organization in order to tailor the best possible strategy.

So throughout the fall semester, six teams, students per group, worked endlessly throughout the semester to present their findings and what they came up with. 

Besides gaining valuable insight throughout the semester of connecting with their client, students also competed for what’s known as the “Blue Cow Award,” an award given by the SJSU Advertising program that recognizes the best team effort in terms of various elements including presentation, visuals, overall strategy, and work ethic. Since there were six teams, each client had two teams and each of those teams would go head to head and compete for the most compelling advertising campaign.

Many students did what it took to win against their counterparts, some going the extra mile as to taking time out of their day to go and visit their client’s business.

Natesa Vuong, a 4th year Advertising student, stopped by Forest and Flour’s establishment to speak with their workers, get a taste of their baked goods, and study the look and feel of the brand.

“I’ve never actually gotten to work with a real client ‘til this class. In my other classes, we’d just pretend that we had a client to work with, but since we actually got paired with real clients, it was a huge change,” said Natesa.

“This class really helped me grow my professional skills since I had to work in a team and deliver results to real people.”

Legend Five, a ADV129 team that put their efforts into providing a campaign for their client, Forest and Flour.

If it sounds like the process of a real advertising agency, that’s because it basically was!

The SJSU students gained practical knowledge in the field of their own study. By partnering up with these local businesses, the students were able to get hands-on experience as to what it would be like to have an actual position in an advertising agency– an experience that is way too good to pass up.

At the end of the semester, all six groups virtually presented their campaign to advertising faculty. The advertising faculty was invited by Professor Llewelyn-Willams as a means to serve as a board of judges for the Blue Cow Awards. Each group presented for about 20 minutes.

So for this semester, stay tuned for the six groups who are competing against each other in presenting the best advertising campaign for Yobox Fitness, Good Spot, and Chopsticks Alley.

Because of CommUniverCity’s role in successfully connecting advertising students to local businesses while also implementing civic engagement, Marketing Smarts: Advertising Campaigns is considered to be a distinctive project that helps both students and the community.

Marketing Smarts: Advertising Campaigns is also part of CommUniverCity’s brand new business program, “Student Learning, Community Earning” or SLCE for short.

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