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Students create ad campaign

By Dylan Chesser
On March 30, 2014

An advertising class, in cooperation with digital media students, created an advertising campaign to address the issue of students who have been accepted to ETSU choosing not to attend.
Advertising Practices is the senior capstone course for mass communication majors who are pursuing a concentration in advertising/public relations.
For the last few years, advertising faculty have used the class to facilitate work for the National Student Advertising Competition, an advertising competition in which students are provided with information about a national brand and tasked with creating a hypothetical advertising campaign that addresses the brand's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
However, this year, Jessee and Stephen Marshall, associate professor in the advertising/public relations concentration of mass communication, decided to forego participation in NSAC because the competition was going through a period of transformation.
"For years, we did the National Student Advertising Competition in that class," Jessee said. "And this year was one of those years of transition. One should always be open for change and new possibilities, and the National Student Advertising Competition was going through a lot of changes this year. ... Dr. Marshall and I talked about it, and we were concerned about how all those transitions would affect our class."
Students in Marshall's Audience Research class in fall 2013 analyzed data pertaining to the number of students who are accepted to ETSU and choose to enroll. In the course of its research, the class found that lack of communication was one of the main reasons students who are accepted to ETSU choose not to enroll.
"Dr. Marshall's class, which, of course, is audience research in the fall, got an amazing opportunity to pull research on an ETSU issue, which is called the yield rate," Jessee said. "... So, Brian Henley [director of admissions] came to us and said, 'We'd like to know why students actually end up coming here and why some of them don't.' Dr. Marshall took last semester and took the students, and they really got to do what, I think, is relevant research because it was something because it was something that they were passionate about and they were interested in, and they did an amazing job."
The ETSU Office of Admissions approached Jessee and Marshall about having their students put together an advertising campaign that addresses the university's yield-rate issues, and Jessee and Marshall decided to make the admission's office's request the subject of the Advertising Practices class for spring 2014.
"Mr. Henley came to me then and said, 'Would your students be willing to do a campaign based on these findings, keeping in mind we want it to be cost neutral?'" Jessee said. "... So, ad practices class, here we are in this quandary about NSAC, and we get an opportunity to do a real, live campaign and actually launch it. And the one thing about NSAC is you put together a national campaign, but you don't actually get to execute. It's just, 'Here's what we would do, if we were doing it.' ... My students, over the last few years, we've been so lucky to be able to work with digital media students, too. So, Jon Hounshell and I sat down and said, 'Yeah, this would be something that we think our students could really get excited about.'"
Jessee's students came up with the concept of having students complete a 10-question survey that would divide them into groups based on their actions, and digital media students designed the website.
The survey divides students into five groups: amplifiers, who, according to survey, are trend-setting, outgoing and extroverted; thrill seekers, who are trailblazers, daredevils and team players; overachievers, who are scholars and hard workers; change agents, who are recruiters and activists; and innovators, who are visionaries, pioneers and artists.
"We send an email out to all those students who have been admitted," Jessee said. "It's called: What Buc are you? And then, we send them to www.youareetsu.com. When they get there, we devised a personality test. Everybody's taking them, and what we found in our research is that they're really a trend right now."
After students take the survey, they have the ability to click through for more information about the groups the survey divides them into.
Jessee said that the main purpose of the campaign is to aid students in finding their niches at ETSU.
"We want them [new students] to recognize, 'Hey, there are people like you; here are the things those people are interested in, and whether it's on campus or off campus, here's what we suggest,'" Jessee said.
Jessee said that she believe this project offered her students the unique opportunity to not only plan an advertising campaign, but also execute and analyze one.
"We figure that we've got 500 hours in this, and it's at least $300,000 worth of work that we've done for zero cost, mind you," Jessee said. "Students came up with the idea. They've planned it. They concepted it. They constructed it. ... They wrote for it. They launched it."


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