Advertising course provides students with cutting edge education in shopper marketing

Posted on: January 25, 2017

IMG_8845In the fall semester of 2016, the MSU Department of Advertising + PR brought back a course quickly growing in popularity called “Foundations in Advertising, Shopper Marketing and Brand Activation.” Students in the class receive the most current education in shopper marketing through lessons created by professionals in the field, teaching them techniques used in the real world today.

The online class, instructed by Joe Videan, an adjunct professor and MSU advertising alumnus based in London, focuses on the combination of advertising and sales based on data derived from patterns of in-store purchases, consumer behavior and demographics. The course is co-taught by Geometry Global, the world’s largest brand activation network and a driving force behind the program at MSU.  

Videan said executives from Geometry Global devote a lot of time, resources and insight to the course. Twelve representatives from the company offered their knowledge to the online modules given to students. Videan explained that the lessons provide them with an up-to-date education about various tools and topics related to shopper marketing, directly from people who are using the same techniques in their careers.

“The industry is changing incredibly fast, so you won’t find much of the material in a book – as soon as ink hit’s paper, a book would become obsolete by the time it reaches students,” said Videan. “A lot of this material that they’re having access to (in the class) is brand new. It’s the stuff that’s being distributed and used at Geometry Global and in the private sector right at this moment.”

Real-world opportunities

In addition to educating MSU students in the current practices of shopper marketing, Geometry Global offers internships to students who excel in the course. After the first class in the spring of 2016, Geometry Global hired two students as summer interns and subsequently offered them full-time positions.

Students interested in internships with Geometry Global apply and are later evaluated during the final presentations they give at the end of the semester. Advertising senior Julianne Frontiero, a student in the fall 2016 course, received a position for the summer of 2017. She will be working at Geometry Global’s location in Chicago.

“I am still surprised that I was able to be offered an amazing opportunity. I am not very good at interviews, I overthink questions and (they) have always been a weakness of mine,” said Frontiero. “So, for me to be able to work with a group and present and really show who I am within the presentation as well as the ideas and plans we came up with as a team was perfect.”

Collaborating to create

For the fall semester, students were assigned a brand for women, Dove and their #SpeakBeautiful project, in partnership with Target stores. They were required to come up with a unique campaign, then give a final presentation and pitch their ideas to a panel, including representatives from Geometry Global. In the previous class, students developed campaigns for Axe, a line of men’s hygiene products.

“Doing a group project is integral to this class because the advertising industry works in groups,” said Videan. “You don’t work in advertising in isolation.”

Dakshaini Ravinder, an advertising senior who completed the class in the fall, said the presentation was a legitimate experience similar to what she may encounter in her future as an advertiser. She called it “challenging and stimulating.”

“To me, the hardest part was coordinating the time schedule between the team to make it work,” said Ravinder. “The course created a real-life situation where the problem was posed with very minimal time to arrive at a solution, just like in agencies, where the client wants everything yesterday.”

A class unlike any other

Videan said the class requires students to put their best foot forward at all times. He reminds them that there’s more to take away from the course than a 4.0, considering all of the potential industry connections and internship opportunities being offered.

“I think that it probably delivers the closest slice of real life that you can get in a lot of the classes that Michigan State offers,” said Videan. “It’s just because of the nature of the material … delivering on a live brief from the client, putting together a presentation and then presenting it and being questioned by the judges. It’s pretty full on.”

By Savannah Swix

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