With over 20 years of experience as a qualitative research consultant, advertising and public relations instructor Mitch Crank knows a thing or two about helping businesses resolve their unique challenges. This expertise is embodied in the ADV 486: Integrated Campaigns class he teaches.
“486 is a class that applies past knowledge learned for students,” Crank said.
The class structure is unique in that there aren't weekly lectures and quizzes; instead, small teams of students work together to develop a campaign for the selected client that semester. Crank starts the class by having each student complete an in-depth personal profile to self-evaluate their skills and abilities before splitting off into small teams. Each team is tasked with putting together a project for the client.
Each semester Crank brings in a unique business for the student groups to work with. Past organizations collaborating with Crank's classes include Carhartt, Country Club of Lansing, The Eli Edythe Broad Art Museum and many more.
“The goal is to help real companies with real solutions in the form of an integrated marketing campaign.” Crank said. “These campaigns can vary in form whether it’s social media, mass media, print, electronic, whatever it might be based on what the client needs are.”
While Crank cites that the agency-like experience is invaluable for the students, he also points out the tremendous impact that his classes have had with clients he has worked with in the past. Perhaps most notably: Aux Petits Soins.
“In the spring of 2019 -- right before COVID reared its ugly head, our class took on Aux Petits Soins, a Lansing-based French immersion class, as our practice client.” Crank said. “Some key goals included how to help Aux Petits Soins grow their revenue and attract and retain students.”
Students from Crank’s class suggested creating cooperative relationships with local restaurants known for serving French dishes. Additionally, the class recommended increasing the sales of Aux Petits Soins branded merchandise such as water bottles, coffee mugs, wine glasses and calendars.
These implementations allowed the small business to improve their business and survive the pandemic. Aux Petit Soins welcomed back students to in-person instruction in September for the first time since March 2020.
Another notable contribution that came from Crank’s class is a partnership with the Jaxon Automotive Museum. Crank's students suggested renting out the large building for special events such as farmer's markets in the courtyard, gatherings for automotive clubs and even hosting Halloween for the community to make things work financially.
"We've actually worked with Jaxon twice, and they have asked to partner with us again. We designed their business cards and some other really practical things for them that they did not have," Crank said. "People from all over the country will drive by [the Jaxon Museum] and see a billboard that was designed by MSU students.”
By Joe Strother