American explorers Lewis and Clark, Teddy Roosevelt and Neil Armstrong all “discovered durable” … well, among other notable things. While each may have their unique place in history, they now feature in a student-created advertising campaign, courtesy of Anne Velliquette’s Integrated Marketing Communications class at the Sam M. Walton College of Business.
In spring 2016, Velliquette directed student teams to create an ad campaign focusing on backpack manufacturer Piltdown Outdoor Company of Springdale. To give the students a hands-on project with a real company, the clinical assistant professor invited local entrepreneur Trey Ansen to introduce his backpacks to students and enlist their ideas for an ad campaign.
“This is such a valuable hands-on experience for the students who form small ad agencies to pitch their ideas to a real client,” Velliquette said. “They get to experience what it is like to work with a client, to hear their needs and desires and to then work as an account manager and creative team to deliver an integrated creative ad campaign that delivers the right brand positioning and the right message for the target market the client wishes to engage. “
Teams were to deliver three components for the project:
- A written creative brief
- An ad campaign with three visuals
- An oral presentation to the client
Walton senior Ann “AC” Hansen was a member of the winning team, along with Davis Trice, Austin Allen, Grace Ann Lile and Esther Udouj. This group of students named their agency Boulder Branding.
“We thought of the name Boulder Branding because we liked the idea of having a brand that was strong (like a boulder) and daring,” Hansen said. “Thus, the name Boulder was born.”
Piltdown’s two main promises to its customers are that its backpacks are made to last and are designed and assembled in the United States. The campaigns needed to reflect the product’s rugged durability and its American roots.
“We tried to give the students as much freedom as possible,” said Ansen, founder and chief executive officer for Piltdown. “We told them the story of our company then asked them to put together a social media campaign that tells that same story to our customers.”
The Boulder Branding team listened to Ansen, brainstormed ideas, researched and then designed an ad campaign using American explorers.
“I knew that Trey wanted to get across that his product was all American,” Hansen said. “He wanted to show that his brand could be trusted until the end. With those thoughts in mind, we thought up famous American pioneers and pasted the packs on them. This delivered humor and showed the true American spirit of Piltdown.”
“The campaigns were unbelievable,” Ansen said. “The students were in our target market and they knew exactly how they’d want to be talked to. They had the right voice and attitude and came up with several ideas that none of our professionals had thought of.”
“This project taught me a lot more about the importance of knowing your brand and not straying from it,” Hansen said. “It taught me that creativity is important and should be leveraged. I learned that taking risks is good and necessary.”