If the ideas from Wright State marketing students to generate extra interest in the upcoming presidential debate at the university come to pass, the campus will be peppered with cardboard cutouts of the candidates, papered with debate posters and host to a 5K race with the runners dressed as the candidates.
Students in the Integrated Marketing Communication class were asked to create campaigns to promote the debate and enhance the prestige of Wright State. The three teams totaling 11 students first hosted focus groups to determine how to pique the interest of Wright State students, incoming students and high school students who may elect to attend Wright State.
“The whole agenda of each campaign was to create a buzz and get students involved in the presidential debate,” said Kunal Swani, assistant professor of marketing who assigned the project.
Wright State will host the first general election presidential debate on Sept. 26. The debate is expected to be in the national and international spotlight and attract thousands of media members.
The students studied marketing techniques, identified the target audience, determined which media channels would be used, what the messaging would be and did an analysis of the likely success of their ideas. Swani believes that makes it more likely that the ideas would work.
Although the project was an academic exercise, the ideas could be adopted by anyone. In fact, the winning team was invited by Joanne Li, dean of the Raj Soin College of Business, to work with college faculty and staff and help brainstorm ideas for debate promotion that could end up being funded.
Li especially liked the idea of hosting a campus “Jeopardy!” game featuring debate-related questions. She helped judge the campaigns of the three teams during their class presentations April 29. She called the students innovative and creative.
“I was very impressed,” she said. “I see the talent in you.”
The ideas include:
- A presidential-nominee costume contest
- “Let Your Voice Be Heard” posters that would be posted around campus and at high schools; debate posters pinned up in the tunnels and at nearby businesses; “Your Vote Counts” fliers passed out before the debate; debate stickers that could be affixed to cars and notebooks
- A campus scavenger hunt featuring statues of Rowdy Raider dressed in patriotic garb and bearing cards with voting facts
- Testimonial videos of students on why they plan to vote
- Giveaways of T-shirts and Frisbees promoting the debate; a booth at Fall Fest that would distribute red, white and blue Firecracker popsicles
- A “If you could ask a candidate a question, what would it be?” campaign
- Draping a debate banner from the Wright State University monolith at the main campus entrance
- Wright State Debate Day featuring activities on the Quad
- A 5K run in which the runners are dressed like the presidential nominees
- Putting up life-sized cardboard cutouts of the presidential candidates that could be used for selfies that could be post on social media
“Great ideas from everyone,” said Kendall Goodrich, chair of the Department of Marketing.
Goodrich said setting up cardboard cutouts of the candidates around campus would be simple and inexpensive.
“You would get a lot of selfies that way, a lot of attention,” he said.
Goodrich said the project furthers the department’s effort toward experiential learning.
“We’re constantly trying to get students involved in real-world types of projects,” he said.