By Joanne Arbogast
The Daily Item
In order to draw customers of all ages, businesses recognize the importance of smart and powerful marketing and advertising. Who better, these days, to find fresh new ways to gauge what consumers want — particularly young consumers — than technically-savvy young people skilled in marketing and advertising who will soon be graduating and looking for gainful employment?
At the University of Pittsburgh, a hands-on course called “Projects in Marketing” essentially turns the class into an ad agency and the students into advertising reps creating ad campaigns for real businesses. This semester, the class’s “client” is Chevrolet. At the same time, 19 other schools are doing the same thing and all are part of a national competition.
The outcome of the competition could spell not only good grades but possible employment futures for the winners — the top three will be given the opportunity to present their campaigns at Chevrolet’s corporate headquarters.
Among the Projects in Marketing students working at a feverish pitch is Annie Lesher, a 2009 Lewisburg Area High School graduate and senior at the University of Pittsburgh, studying marketing and economics.
“Our class has been given the challenge to create a semester-long campaign that promotes the Chevrolet Spark, Sonic, and Cruze vehicles,” she said. The class has set in motion a number of clever, attention-grabbing events around the campus but Lesher figured, why think small?
Using some real marketing smarts, she reached out to The Daily Item to “gain more exposure for our campaign and what we are doing. I thought it would be highly relevant to reach out to my local newspaper back home for some additional exposure for our campaign.”
One of the first efforts the class did was put red balloons that read “Chevy Loves Ya” on all of the Chevy vehicles around campus to make them stand out even more. Another was the “Spot the Chevy” photo event. Students simply had to snap a picture of any Chevrolet vehicle they saw and then upload it to the group’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/AdventureOnPitt). This was so successful the class decided to continue it throughout the semester.
Another was what Lesher called “a surprise flash mob” held one autumn afternoon. “We did it right in front of Cathedral of Learning on campus — a high-traffic area and which definitely attracted a lot of confusion and attention,” she said.
For those who may not know, a flash mob is when seemingly innocent people all of a sudden start dancing predetermined moves in a public place in order to grab the attention of people around them. “To make sure ours was ready to go, we held two private rehearsals to learn the moves and figure out exactly how the flash mob was going to take place,” Lesher said.
Another successful attention-getter was a “Chevy Lockdown” where two students (Adam Leggieri and Blair Humienny) spent 22 straight hours in a Chevy Cruze. “They were allowed to leave the car if they had to use the restroom,” Lesher said, “but someone always had to be in the car at all times. They took pictures and video documentaries throughout the night, had plenty of blankets, and let other class members know if they needed any food or water. Definitely a cool experience!”
The class’s main campus event took place on Nov. 8. “Our main goal was to get students physically in the vehicles, so they could see how nice they are,” she said. The way they drew crowds was to also feature games, free food and freebies like T-shirts and sunglasses.
More than 1,500 people showed up “which was great since our initial goal was 1,000,” she said.
The final presentation will be made Dec. 6. “We will know who wins the competition by the end of the semester,” Lesher said.
In the meantime, she encourages readers to find out about the campaign by visiting the group’s web site at www.AdventureOnPitt.com.