The Grand Plan - Page 2
Under the scaffolds: UW Oshkosh journalism students get a behind-the-scenes tour from Jeff Potts, develompent manager of the Grand Opera House, Oshkosh's historic theater. (Photo: Shawn McAfee, UW Oshkosh Learning Technologies)
After the research on the student demographic was compiled, a new group of students began working to create a campaign that could be used by the Grand Opera House. At the beginning of the spring semester, the students took a field trip to the Grand, which was under renovation.
Donning hard hats, the students and Baumgart negotiated the scaffolds and other construction equipment. After the tour, the students sat with Potts for a thoughtful Q & A about the project.
“The course basically takes the students from start to end and asks them to develop an integrated communications campaign for the client,” Baumgart said. “It allows them to take what they’ve learned from several other courses and apply it in the classroom to a real-world client.”
Steffes Hansen, an assistant professor in strategic communication, said the Grand project gave the students an up-close-and-personal view of how the advertising campaigns work outside classroom walls. “The students are walking away…understanding how research works and how it integrates with all the time and money that we spend in advertising campaigns in the real world,” she said.
Baumgart agreed. “It’s not a case study, it’s not something that’s been written, it’s not something that’s been done before,” she said.
Senior Jordan Steinert recognized the value presented in a course that gives real-world experience. He said his class took on the air of an ad agency, with everyone playing a role. “I think the actual experience getting out in the real world really pays off,” he said. “There’s so much more value in this class than just in a regular textbook.”
Aside from the professional edge the students gained from participating in the project, senior Simon said the course was more enjoyable than the typical advertising class. “You can actually see your project come to life,” Simon said. “It’s not something that you’re just going to do and hand in for a grade.”
The partnership with the Grand Opera House was not beneficial only to the students. Grand officials say they gained access to a world that has eluded them. “Working with students at UW Oshkosh is really a great opportunity for us to tap into a demographic that traditionally hasn’t come to the Grand Opera House,” Potts said. “It really gives us some great insight into both why they would come and maybe why they’re not coming.”The Grand hopes that it can reach the student demographic by not only creating a marketing campaign that appeals to a younger audience, but also providing the type of entertainment that they’d want.
“It is a demographic that is largely under-served by what we do at the Grand,” Joe Ferlo, executive director of the Grand Opera House, said. “Finding a way to reach them in a way that was enticing for them is something that we've been trying to do for years.”