|A print piece from the winning campaign. |
“There is great value — for both the students and the community — in having a real client for the semester-long project for the Message Strategy class. Students are able to tackle real time, real world marketing challenges,” said Dr. Kirsten Strausbaugh-Hutchinson, senior lecturer in the Department of Advertising and Public Relations, and instructor for the course.
The students were divided into teams, or advertising agencies, for the entire semester to build a creative campaign to pitch to Abby Denham, the owner of Pints and Paints. The three teams focused on several themes, such as the company's locally-owned roots and Athens-based paintings. Denham ultimately chose a student campaign that embodied these concepts called “Outside the Lines, Inside Athens.”
“Our campaign capitalizes on the unique and local flavor of the culture of Athens that Pints and Paints has come to embody through its innovative take on nighttime entertainment,” said Channing Jones, a sophomore marketing and advertising major who was part of the winning campaign. “Ultimately, we wanted all of our communications pieces to exude the same rustic, earthy, artsy vibe customers feel upon visiting Pints and Paints.”
Some students found the semester-long project a challenging but rewarding process.
“The creative process was more challenging than I expected it to be. It was difficult for myself and my group to reject our initial ideas and to dig for something deeper and more meaningful,” said Alyson Shields, another student who was on the winning campaign team. “But ultimately, we created a campaign that we were proud of and that we were certain would stand out and be memorable.”
One student said she felt so inspired by the company’s history, she pursued a follow-up internship after the class was over. “As soon as I walked into Pints and Paints for our first meeting with Abby, the owner, I instantly knew that I'd made the right decision when I decided to become an advertising major, and I knew that I had to work for her,” said Brittney Johnson, another student who took the course.
Overall, the class helps students gain hands-on experience, said Dr. Strausbaugh-Hutchinson. “They learn to interact with clients and to assess their business needs, as well as gain presentation experience, learning to be confident in pitching their recommendations. And from a community standpoint, we're able to help local Athens-based businesses grow and thrive.”
“Message Strategy has been one of the most exciting classes I have ever taken,” said Shields. “Having a real-life client motivated me to really push myself, more than any letter-grade has ever motivated me. Given the opportunity, I would take the class again in a heartbeat.”