Photo courtesy of Todd Evans
BY ASHLEY FLAWS
Ten students at Drake University collaborated with the Des Moines Community Playhouse over J-Term to create and execute a marketing strategy. Their J-Term course, Agency One-Nine-Nine, was led by two journalism school professors, Sandy Henry and Todd Evans.
Students first met with the Playhouse and immediately began drafting ideas for the marketing strategy.
“We started with outlining what we wanted to do and what kind of path we wanted to take as a team, and then it came down to the nitty-gritty of this is what we have to do, this is who we have to communicate with,” said Olivia Decelles, a junior digital media production major who took the course.
Mitch Kedzior, another junior digital media production major who took the course, said that the Playhouse is under construction. However, the Playhouse wanted people to know that their productions and educational services are still being provided but in a new temporary location. The students used this knowledge to form their strategy.
“We came up with this idea of road trip,” Kedzior said. “You know, theatre is as much about the experience of going to the show as it is the show itself, as is a road trip, and we came up with this idea because it’s fun. On a road trip, you go somewhere and you have a lot of fun, and then you come right back.”
Kedzior and Decelles were on the video team that filmed and edited footage for the Playhouse to use on their website and social media. Other students in the class formed a graphics team to help come up with a logo for the company and designs for promotional materials, such as posters and flyers.
There was also a copywriting team that created copy for the videos and promotional materials, suggesting what the Playhouse write and when to write it as a part of their marketing strategy.
Decelles said that the collaboration between the students was an important part of this project.
“I really depended on my two other video producers and our other video graphic producer,” Decelles said. “I don’t think I would have been able to get through this class or finish this project without them.”
As part of the process, Decelles said students also had to communicate with their professors and the Playhouse to ensure everyone was on the same page with the strategy. This sometimes meant that students had to go back to the drawing board.
“It was really hard to create something and create something you’re proud of and then be told that they want it changed,” Kedzior said. “A lot of times it was us working on the same product for hours, for days hoping that they would like it.”
Since the course was three and half weeks long, Decelles said the deadline was tight and strenuous.
“It was a challenging experience but well worth it in the long run,” Decelles said. “I think it’s something that I can take to future careers and explain what I did, and I can be proud of what I did.”
Decelles and Kedzior alike were happy with their experiences in the course.
“This experience was incredible,” Kedzior said. “It was the best immersive class that I’ve ever had. It was the closest thing I think I will ever get to a real job from a class … It was very rewarding, and I’m glad I took my time during J-Term to take it.”