ACU students gain real world experience working on high profile projects
For Immediate Release
Oct. 9, 2000
Tom Craig, Director of Media and Community Relations
How do you get Texas colleges and their students to buy more Apple computers?
That's the question students in Dr. Jeff Warr's integrated marketing communications campaigns class at Abilene Christian University are addressing this fall. But the question is not theoretical. The IMC students have taken on Apple Computers Inc. as a client and are working to develop a marketing plan for the higher education division of the multinational corporation. The IMC class is offered through the university's Department of Journalism and Mass Communication.
Members of the campaigns class, which includes eight junior and senior level undergraduate students and four students working on their master's degrees in digital media, recently traveled to Apple's regional headquarters at the Infomart in Dallas to meet with Apple executives and discuss the marketing campaign. Near the end of the fall semester, the students will return to Dallas to make a formal presentation of their marketing communications plan. If the people from Apple like the students' ideas, the plan could be used to guide Apple's marketing efforts on up to six Texas college campuses next fall.
"ACU students are winning a solid reputation of creating cutting-edge campaigns for a variety of clients," Warr said. Working for a client like Apple gives students a chance to put the marketing communications theory they've learned in class to work in the real world, Warr continued.
"It's always so exciting to work for a real client," Warr said. "Real problems are so much more fun than made-up assignments. Apple is a perfect client for us. They have given us a tough marketing assignment. But I know the members of the class can meet the challenge."
Randal Senter, digital media graduate student from Cleburne and collegiate account supervisor for the Apple computer marketing initiative, agreed with Warr. "This is an incredible opportunity for us as students to work with such an important client as Apple. It gives us an opportunity to use the knowledge and expertise we've gained at ACU in a real world setting."
Developing marketing communications campaigns for real clients is nothing new for Warr's classes. During the spring 2000 semester, his IMC campaigns class developed and implemented a plan to promote organ donor awareness on the ACU campus. The class entered its plan in the 2000 National Organ Donor Awareness Competition, a Public Relations Student Society of America competition sponsored by Rowan University in New Jersey. The class won first place in the contest, a repeat win for ACU students, who had taken first place in the same PRSSA-sponsored competition in 1997.
Attempting to win the contest twice was a big challenge, Warr said, because "to our knowledge, this hadn't been done before. These wins are evidence of the exceptional talent within our student body and of the skills they've developed in their studies here. Most of the members of the spring 2000 team graduated in May and have already landed jobs in the marketing communications industry, many with some of the nation's largest advertising and public relations firms."
In 1999, students from Warr's IMC class won first place in a national competition sponsored by Rolling Stone magazine and the National Milk Producers Board. The marketing communications plan presented by ACU students bested plans entered by 300 other schools.
Graham Duke, an IMC major who graduated from ACU in 1999, was part of the class that worked on the Rolling Stone/milk producers campaign. He said working on the class project was "great experience in learning how to communicate with business professionals. The class forces you to learn how to be responsible and keep a project moving with a real client."
Duke now works as an assistant account executive for Temerlin McClain, a advertising agency based in Irving. His real world client is now Subaru of America.
In addition to the strategies developed for contests, Warr's class members have also designed integrated marketing communications plans for Abilene nonprofit agencies such as Big Brothers/Big Sisters and Ben Richey Boy's Ranch. The class also created advertising for the company which produces SeaDoo water recreation equipment.
If you are a member of the media who would like more information about this release, please contact Tom Craig, director of media and community relations, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 915-674-2692 (cell phone: 665-5469).