As the regional champion and national runner-up for the Small Business Institute's 2000 Undergraduate Specialized Case Award, Wittenberg's CAP team learned what it takes to put together an advertising campaign that works. Wittenberg students Kelly Maguire of Columbus, Ohio, Erica Rysberg of Okemos, Mich., Omer Qureshi of Karachi, Pakistan and Jessica Shue of Plain City, Ohio began the project as juniors in the CAP program, which operates as part of the Wittenberg Center for Applied Management (WittCAM). Together, they put in a lot of long hours and discovered the value of teamwork and compromise as part of the creative process.
"This was the first team from Wittenberg to win a regional competition," said the group's adviser, Pamela Schindler, professor of management and director of WittCAM. "All universities may submit field case reports, so this was really a special award to win."
A total of 35 cases made the final judging round in the national competition, representing universities of all sizes across the nation. Wittenberg's case was the real-life story of a fledgling business in Enon, Ohio, The Inn at Fox Run, an assisted living facility that opened in 1998. The students designed a marketing and communications campaign for Owner/Administrators Tammy Lewis-Nolasco and Suzanne Schloss-Orndorff and Marketing Director Mary Tackett.
The Inn at Fox Run's business model differs from other similar facilities in that it offers both an activity center and a living space for the elderly. The CAP team organized an advertising campaign, utilizing the slogan "Re-inventing Wellness Through Living," to reflect the company's stated communication goals. The plan was developed after meeting with the employees, collecting general information about the industry, observing business practices at The Inn at Fox Run and its competitors, conducting focus groups with residents and defining target audiences.
"It was nice to see all of our hard work pay off," Maguire said. "It was great that there was a purpose - working with a real client toward real goals."
Maguire added that the experience with the CAP team was an important one for her personally. Like Rysberg and possibly Shue, she plans to pursue a career in advertising after graduation. Designing an award-winning advertising campaign and communications program provided much-needed real-world practice for the Wittenberg students, and each gained confidence in their own abilities as a result.
"This project was a merger of different personalities," Schindler said. "These students had to work together to sell themselves and their ideas to be successful. They really got creative, and they did extensive research."
Taking a slightly different track, Qureshi turned an internship with The Bank of America last summer into a full-time job in San Francisco, where he has worked while completing his Wittenberg degree by a special long-distance arrangement. His experience as a member of the CAP team was also valuable, primarily as an eye-opening lesson about American culture.
"It was very different," he said. "I had never previously been exposed to situations like I observed (at the Inn at Fox Run). I learned a lot."
The CAP program uses junior and senior students each year to develop advertising strategies tailored to an organization's communication needs and goals. The team of students meets with clients regularly to prepare a comprehensive analysis of communication strategy and tactics, with recommendations for improving advertising effectiveness. The students involved in the aforementioned project made their final presentation to The Inn at Fox Run in May 2000, and the company continues to make use of the ideas and some of the advertisements.
WittCAM is a student skill development center, which has been partially funded during the last three years by grants from the Cleveland Foundation and the Kemper Foundation. The student staff accepts and disseminates opportunities for students in all the management department's experiential programs: Small Business Institute, CAP, Project Management Assistance and management internships. Each program places students with an actual organization to accomplish specified projects or processes.