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Dec. 17, 2012
The city of Maryville didn’t have to go far this fall when it sought recommendations for rebranding a local recreation destination. Students in Northwest Missouri State University’s advanced advertising strategies course accepted the challenge and recently presented a package of marketing ideas to community leaders.
Over the course of the fall trimester, 12 students, under the advisement of Jacquie Lamer, instructor of mass media, were tasked with rebranding Maryville’s 3,000-acre Mozingo Lake area – which maintains separate identities as a fishing attraction, golf course, hunting preserve and campground – so all its amenities are united as one brand. The students gathered research and data, designed advertising campaigns and logos, and designed a central website for the park.
The students pitched their ideas during a formal presentation Dec. 5 at the Maryville Community Center to about 30 Mozingo and community officials, including Maryville City Manager Greg McDanel and Assistant City Manager Ryan Heiland, who oversees Mozingo’s operations.
“They did a phenomenal job identifying weaknesses in our marketing strategy for Mozingo Lake and provided creative yet professional suggestions for implementation,” McDanel said. “The end result of the project presented by the class far exceeded our expectations and has potentially saved the Maryville taxpayers thousands of dollars with regards to hiring an outside consultant to perform the necessary research.”
Students collected more than 200 local residents’ opinions about Mozingo through surveys conducted at a Bearcat football game and a local grocery store. They collected nearly 300 more responses through an online survey. The students then used the data they gathered to identify the park’s strengths and opportunities. Based on their research, the students recommended identifying the park as Mozingo Lake Recreation Area.
One creative team built an advertising campaign around a new logo featuring seven different-colored dots to represent each of Mozingo’s attractions. The dots also could be used in signage throughout the park, the team proposed. Related print advertisements personalize the experience at Mozingo with images of families boating or hiking and headlines like “Change your mood.”
A second creative team designed a campaign based on a logo that highlights the recreation area’s tall grasses and includes the words “Mozingo Lake Recreation Area” in a deep blue to represent its lake. The campaign’s print advertisements highlight “Mozingo Moments” that bring a smile to visitors’ faces, such as a boy defeating his father in a round of golf or a mother experiencing the adrenaline rush of tubing on the lake with her children.
Students also designed and offered recommendations for updating and maintaining a central website, an online store and social media. The students even provided tips to update outdated listings for Mozingo on travel websites and GPS systems.
McDanel said the city of Maryville is working with Mozingo board members and the City Council to identify elements of the students’ recommendations that may be implemented. He said the city also is interested in working with Northwest’s spring advanced advertising strategies students to assist with implementation of the rebranding plans.
“While it is anticipated that there may be minor tweaking, the class recommendations are solid and we do not anticipate deviating much from them,” McDanel said.
For students, the course is an invaluable opportunity to work with a real client in a real-world setting. The hands-on experience Northwest students receive in the course also gives them an edge as they’re applying for jobs after graduation.
“Narrowing down one single logo, choosing a campaign and designing advertisements that fit took a lot of time and critical thinking,” said Katie Grimm, a senior applied advertising major from Elkhorn, Neb., who performed target market analysis and worked on the “Mozingo Moments” campaign. “The long hours were discouraging at times, but after presenting to the advisory board, city council and other community members all the hard work felt so rewarding.”
Chayse Barr, a senior from Maryville who graduated last week with degrees in interactive digital media and applied advertising, served as the account coordinator for the class. He also participated last year with Knacktive, Northwest’s student-led integrated marketing agency, and worked as an account service and media intern at Bozell in Omaha, Neb., last summer. His experience coordinating the campaign for the advertising strategies class further enhanced his skills.
“I knew coming into this class that it was going to be set up similar to those past experiences, but I also knew with Jacquie Lamer being the instructor that it was going to be a challenge and I was ready to accept it,” Barr said. “I volunteered for my leadership role as the account coordinator because I was comfortable with the process and was ready to step up to that challenge, push myself and hopefully make an impact and leave my mark, which is something I think we as a class achieved together.”
Beginning in 2003, the advanced advertising strategies course is a capstone experience for senior students studying advertising and interactive digital media at Northwest. Students in the course work with a single client for the duration of the trimester, solving real issues related to integrated marketing, advertising, internet publishing and promotions. The course is designed to replicate a real work environment, classes are run like business meetings, and students are assigned to both a research team and an implementation team.
At the end of each course, students present their work to the client at the client's headquarters. In addition to advertising strategies, however, students must learn problem-solving strategies and develop a solid group dynamic to be successful.
Students also benefit from opportunities to network with professionals and develop relationships that could lead to careers in the industry. Northwest alumnus Kevin Fullerton, owner of Springboard Creative advertising agency in Mission, Kan., serves as a consultant to the students.
Past clients of the advertising strategies course have included North Kansas City Hospital, Kansas City Power and Light, John Deere and the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and UMB bank.
For more information about the course and to view the students’ recommendations for Mozingo Lake Recreation Area, visit http://advadv.blogspot.com/.
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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Northwest Missouri State University
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