Last year, a unique, new advertising course through MSU’s College of Communication Arts and Sciences taught students about two of the most important areas of the field: shopper marketing and brand activation.
“Shopper marketing is a marriage between data and targeted to deliver selling messages to the right people in the right place at the right time. Brand activation essentially brings the brand and its key benefits to life,” said Joe Videan, course creator. “Both definitions are constantly evolving because both areas are evolving. Two things are certain: Shopper marketing is the fastest growing area of advertising and anyone studying advertising needs to get under its principles or be left behind.
The course, “Foundations in Advertising, Shopper Marketing and Brand Activation,” was also instructed by Videan, an adjunct professor in Advertising + PR. His inspiration for the course stemmed from an idea to bring students and businesses together to build skills demanded in the real world.
With that concept in mind, Videan partnered with Geometry Global, the world’s largest Brand Activation Network, to collaborate on the course.
“If the private sector – the business world – wants to hire graduates who are ready to hit the ground running in their careers, it needs to make a contribution to their education,” Videan said. “My idea was to bring the two together. MSU has one of the United States' largest advertising schools. Geometry Global is the world's largest shopper marketing and brand activation agency – a perfect fit.”
Videan said the course encountered some of the typical challenges of a new course, as well as those posed by hybrid courses. Hybrid courses are defined as classes which substitute some traditional time in the classroom with online learning. Videan’s class met in-person at the start and end of the course. In between, students and instructors communicated online via video tutorials, through interaction on a Facebook group and Skype sessions.
One of the things that Videan tried to accomplish with the course was to teach the subject in a way that students learned and enjoyed it. He said this was a tricky feat considering he lives in London, the senior vice president of Geometry Global was in New York, and the students were in Michigan.
“Another challenge is that this course is not just theory, it involves a lot of practical application,” Videan said. “It is not your typical class where you listen to a lecture, take notes, write a paper or two and take an exam. Students need to demonstrate that they understand the material by producing work of their own.”
The end of the course was a true showing of what the students learned. They gathered in teams to develop a campaign for a multinational company and presented a brief about their plan to the president of Geometry Global and three senior vice presidents. Videan said the opportunity for students to demonstrate their new knowledge and work with professionals opened doors to internship possibilities. Four students were offered positions with Geometry Global following their presentations, he said.
The course is being offered again in the upcoming fall semester. Videan explained that one of the major benefits of the course is a current and up-to-date education about the field of advertising, rather than one based on a three- or four-year-old textbook.
“Some of the principles are the same, but the tactics, motives and methods have evolved. What makes this course different is that it provides up to the minute – literally in some cases – industry best practice,” Videan said. “So in effect, when students who (have completed) the course leave MSU, they are ready to hit the ground running in shopper marketing. This is very attractive to both advertisers and advertising agencies.”