The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Class focuses on annual spring scrimmage

SMU marketing professor Judy Foxman steps out from behind her cluttered desk and walks around her office, stopping at various locations to show off autographed footballs and posters. These items aren’t signed by movie stars or football players, but they are still priceless in Foxman’s eyes. The items she enthusiastically shows off are gifts from her former honors marketing practicum classes, and she cannot wait to get another gift from this year’s class.

The honors marketing practicum is a class offered to senior business and marketing majors to help give them real world experience before graduation. However, this is not your average class. Instead of sitting at a desk and scribbling down notes from the chalkboard, these students are put in charge of running a successful marketing campaign for a real life client. Students have to go through an application process to even be considered for the class. The process requires filling out an application, turning in a resume and writing a one-page paper about why he or she wishes to take the class.

“Unlike other classes where you work with theoretical cases, this class is given money and a client and has to research, design and execute a promotion,” Foxman said.

In the past, the class has worked with companies such as Citibank, Subaru and Sewell Chevrolet in Dallas. This year, the client is SMU. The SMU Athletic Marketing and Promotions Department has hired the class to promote the annual Red and Blue Scrimmage on April 5. It is the first year the class has worked with the university, and both parties are taking the partnership very seriously.

“The athletic department has hired us to get students to the game, and we are not taking this request lightly,” said 22-year-old marketing major April Brown, who was voted by her fellow students as one of two class coordinators.

The scrimmage is held annually in Ford Stadium. The SMU football team divides itself into two teams that play against each other for an hour. It gives fans an opportunity to get an early look at the new recruits and the team before the upcoming season.

The overall goal for the class is to get 2,000 people to the scrimmage. According to students in the class, only 1,000 people attended last year. However, they think they have the solution for attracting 1,000 more.

In the past, the scrimmage has been just that – a scrimmage. There were no activities or entertainment before or after the game. This year, the students look to change that. Enter class account planner Graham Harrison.

To understand what students want, Harrison sent out 300 surveys. She sent 250 of them out to students and 50 out to professors and faculty. The survey asked simple questions about what type of food people would want and what kind of activities they would enjoy.

The results of the survey showed that students and faculty would be more willing to come if free food was provided. Students claimed they would be encouraged to come if there was a free concert and traditional Boulevard activities. Faculty said they would attend the game if there was a chance to win prizes such as gift certificates and trip giveaways.

The class took the survey results seriously, as there will be a chance to win gifts from companies such as Neiman Marcus and American Airlines. Free food will be provided by Urban Taco and Pluckers, and the class has hired the famous rap group Bone Thugs-N-Harmony to perform a free concert outside the stadium before the game.

The class understands they have to do more than pass out pizza and soft drinks to get people to attend. This is where the advertising team comes into play. They will place some traditional advertisements around campus such as stake signs, banners and posters. But they also plan some non-traditional advertising. They’ll plan to place three large red and blue eggs on campus, symbolizing SMU’s new breed of football, to help promote the scrimmage.

The students have also come up with slogans and themes for the game. Their main theme is “June Comes Early This Year,” referring to the new head coach, June Jones. The class is promoting the new coach as much as the scrimmage. This will be the first chance to see the new head coach in action. Other slogans such as “A Whole New Breed,” are also being used to hype up the new style of run-and-gun offense Jones is expected to bring to SMU.

The class must meet with its client multiple times throughout the process to propose ideas. The client, in this case SMU, then either accepts or declines the class’ ideas. The class just recently gave a proposal and, according to Foxman, it went fabulously. She also noted that the class did the whole presentation without note cards.

“We were very impressed with their strategy to generate interest. I can say we will be taking some of their ideas for the football 2008 season,” said Director of Marketing and Promotions Monica Contreras in an e-mail.

Marketing major Andrew Galloway, the other class coordinator, feels a little more pressure to produce an excellent campaign because he is a punter on the SMU football team. He says that being on the team and a part of the class gives him an amazing opportunity to give advice on what he thinks will help the game. He has even talked with his teammates and coaches about what they think might be the best way to promote the scrimmage. Some of his teammates are even helping.

“Don’t be surprised if you see some of my teammates in a special promotion here and there. I think one in particular will be enjoyable and humorous for all our fans, but I don’t want to give too much away,” Galloway said.

Promotions aside, Galloway admits that he has always had a passion for marketing and sports, and this class has given him the opportunity to combine the two.

“Every time that I may get tired of putting in the extra hours, I know that I want to put together the best atmosphere for this game that I possibly can for my teammates and coaches,” he said.

Having the responsibility of promoting the scrimmage on top of everything else that students have going on in their lives can be difficult.

“We are college kids and have other classes and organizations that we have to deal with as well,” said Tucker Pressly, 22, who is in charge of the public relations aspect of the campaign.

And don’t forget that these students are doing this as second semester seniors. Pressly certainly hasn’t.

“We have everything we need to succeed but it’s tough because we are second semester seniors and want to live it up,” she said.

Students say the class offers them experiences and opportunities that a regular class does not.

“I have gained a tremendous amount of real world experience. I am going into brand management when I graduate and this class has helped me improve my skills,” Brown said.

Foxman said that she thinks this class is a great capstone for seniors because it gives them the opportunity to take everything they have learned in all their classes over the years and combine it all into one.

Pressly agrees, “In this class you realize how much you have done and how much you have learned.”

But the class has some disadvantages as well.

“If you get something wrong on a test, it’s not the same as losing a client’s money. There is much more to lose than a regular class,” said 22-year-old marketing major Graham Harrison.

The students say that it has been easy to work as a team because they are all working for a common goal that they all believe in. They have to listen to each other’s ideas and brainstorm as a group or the campaign will be a bust. For now, things are going well, but Foxman isn’t preparing to hang another autographed poster just yet.

“This is one of those things you have to stay on your toes throughout. I don’t rest until the promotion is complete,” Foxman said.

And at this stage, the promotion is almost complete. The students in the class know that they have been working hard to promote the game to the best of their ability. While they all want to receive an ‘A’ in the course, the class is hoping for more than just a good report card.

Since SMU has never promoted the scrimmage to this level before, the class thinks this campaign may change the way students and Dallas residents view the spring event.

“If this works out it will be a new SMU tradition, which is really cool,” Pressly said.

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