Clinton native Hunter Nethercutt and fellow East Carolina University students are gaining real-world experience with a real client and a real budget of $3,000 as part of a senior marketing project at the university.
A team of ECU marketing students, led by Dr. Christy Ashley, was selected to compete in a nationwide challenge sponsored by American Honda Motor Company in conjunction with EdVenture Partners. The competition has taken place over the course of the Spring 2013 semester as part of Ashley’s Marketing Strategy course in ECU’s College of Business.
The 2013 Honda Civic Marketing Challenge is designed to give students real-world business experience by asking them to design and implement an integrated marketing communications plan. As part of the project, Nethercutt along with other students in the class created their own in-class marketing agency, Endless Opportunities Marketing, responsible for researching, designing, implementing, and evaluating the success of an integrated marketing plan.
“My Marketing Strategy class has been given the privilege of competing against 19 other universities nationwide in the Honda Marketing Challenge,” Nethercutt stated. “We were the only school in North Carolina selected to compete in this challenge … and are extremely enthusiastic about this unique opportunity.”
Many other well-known national colleges were chosen to compete, including Boston College, University of Connecticut, University of Southern California, Johns Hopkins University, Virginia Tech and Texas A&M.
“We are so grateful to be given an opportunity that allows us to gain invaluable real-world experience before entering the workforce,” Nethercutt said. “As a class, we have created the student agency, Endless Opportunities Marketing, in order to create a promising campaign for the 2013 Honda Civic Sedan. We have teams and leadership roles as part of the internship program that has been integrated into our Marketing Strategy course.”
The student objective is to assemble a campaign plan for the new 2013 Honda Civic Sedan. In the process, students are trying to create buzz for the school and Honda, accomplish the goals set forth by the project and the class-formed marketing agency.
“We are trying to raise awareness of the new model and increase perceptions that Honda is a fun, youthful, innovative brand. By using our knowledge concerning the interests of our college peers and conducting research, we are able to create an authentic campaign targeting ECU students,” Nethercutt said.
Recently events on campus included a tailgate event before a baseball game against N.C. State April 2 and the main event, “The Honda Experience” April 11.
“The Honda Civic Marketing Challenge is an exceptional opportunity for ECU students to flex their problem-solving and creative abilities,” said Ashley. “I have been extremely impressed with the team of students who comprise Endless Opportunities Marketing.”
Endless Opportunities was divided into seven divisions, with a leading coordinator overseeing everything. Departments included research, budget, campaign strategy, campaign implementation, advertising, public relations and published reports/presentations. Research has included data collected from the target market, the Generation Y (18-25 years) college student demographic, in order to gauge what this target market truly wants and needs. After analyzing the data, the team designed and implemented a campaign, based on their findings, across ECU’s campus.
Nethercutt’s role within the agency has been as a member of the PR department.
“I’ve participated in constructing press releases, contacting media outlets, writing ‘thank you’ notes and various other promotional tasks for our events,” he said.
Towards the end of the semester, the group will collect feedback and conduct post-campaign research to analyze their success on campus. The project will conclude with a formal presentation to the client summarizing the team’s efforts and results.
Nethercutt said he was glad to be a part of the marketing campaign.
“Being the only school selected to participate from the state of North Carolina we truly value and appreciate this amazing opportunity,” he said. “The experience, thus far, has been both interesting and eye-opening. I’ve truly come to understand all of the research and work that goes into even the smallest projects within businesses. I believe I’ll be able to carry the knowledge I’ve gained with me into the workplace and become a better employee as a result.”
If chosen as a winner by Honda, parts of the agency’s campaign will be implemented nationally.
“The Honda Civic Marketing Challenge is an experience like no other,” said agency coordinator Brittany Ingram. “We are getting the chance to gain skills and valuable practice in our chosen field. Like the campaign slogan says, ‘you can’t label this experience.’”
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at email@example.com.