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News Release

June 26, 2018

Knacktive to partner with city of Maryville on tourism campaign

Knacktive, the Northwest Missouri State University program that places advanced undergraduate students in an environment mimicking a digital media marketing agency, will partner with the city of Maryville and its Tourism Committee next spring to help the city advance tourism initiatives.

Knacktive, now entering its ninth iteration, partners with a professional client each spring, while Maryville’s Tourism Committee is relatively new, having formed as a result of city residents approving a transient guest tax in November 2016.

“The tourism committee is recently formed, and it’s our job to figure out how to best brand Maryville’s assets and identify ourselves with the tourism industry,” Maryville City Manager Greg McDanel said. “It is a natural fit to partner with Northwest Missouri State University through the Knacktive program and have the high caliber students guide us on direction, branding and marketing.”

Knacktive is an elective course designed to replicate the creative demands and intense teamwork atmosphere of a technology-oriented, professional marketing communications agency. Students selected for the experience actively refine their creative abilities, collaborative skills and academic knowledge with the objective of improved competitiveness in the professional marketplace after graduation.

Throughout the course, students experience a realistic, agency-like atmosphere as they work in teams on a comprehensive campaign plan for a real client with real issues to address. The competing teams conduct research, analyze the data, devise a strategy, formulate tactics and ultimately make a formal presentation to the client.

Knacktive incorporates principles, strategies and tactics of design, marketing and public relations through a melting pot of majors from Northwest’s schools and departments of Communication and Mass MediaLanguage, Literature and WritingFine and Performing ArtsBusiness; and Computer Science and Information Systems. Interested students must apply for the course and selected students earn three hours of academic credit by successfully completing the course.

Four faculty members – Dr. Joni Adkins, associate professor of computer science and information systems; Steven Chappell, instructor of mass media; Chris Graves, associate professor of art; and Dr. Deb Toomey, an assistant professor of marketing – advise students in the program.

Knacktive’s task for the Maryville Tourism Committee will be to design a cohesive campaign that establishes an identity and pinpoints markets for promotion. Students will create websites, logos, advertising and other elements to help unify the city’s numerous tourism offerings and agencies.

Toomey said excitement already is building for the partnership.

“The faculty know our students will experience the creative development of a complete marketing campaign analysis, design and implementation and will see the elements of their work exhibited throughout the region right away,” Toomey said. “When our client was identified to several members of the 2018 teams, several expressed interest in returning for a second year just to be able to work on this project.”

Northwest students have teamed with the city of Maryville on a number of projects in recent years, most notably a successful rebranding of Mozingo Lake Recreation Park. In 2012, 12 students, under the advisement of Jacquie Lamer, an instructor of mass media, gathered research and data, designed advertising campaigns and logos, and designed a central website for the park, all of which were implemented.

In the last year, Northwest students developed social media plans for local businesses through an internship program with the Maryville Chamber of Commerce, and students in the School of Computer Science and Information Systems partnered with Mozingo to build online programs for managing inventory, work schedules and other organizational needs.

The inaugural Knacktive class in 2011 was charged with designing a comprehensive marketing campaign for Cincinnati-based LasikPlus Vision. The client ultimately chose one team’s approach of marketing its vision correction procedure to individuals in protective services, and the “Eyes Save Lives” campaign was spun off nationally within three months.

Subsequent Knacktive classes have tackled rebranding projects and marketing campaigns for Science City at Kansas City’s Union Station; Tri State Ford auto dealership in Maryville; Northwest’s Horace Mann Laboratory School; Hy-Vee’s Market Grille; Velociti Inc., a technology deployment company in Kansas City; and The American Royal. Alumni of the Knacktive program have gone on to obtain jobs at some of the region’s top advertising and marketing agencies.

Business owners interested in learning more about working with Knacktive should contact the Northwest Foundation at 660.562.1248. To learn more about Knacktive, visit


Dr. Mark Hornickel
Administration Building
Room 215