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By Kelsey Wagner
Eller Marketing ’12

Adjunct lecturer Ed Ackerley’s Advertising Management course is a perennial favorite among students. Despite its 8 a.m. time slot, it’s one of the hardest marketing electives to get into.

Advertising Management students hold a U-Swirl marketing event at UA's McClelland Hall, home of the Eller College.

Advertising Management students hold a U-Swirl marketing event at UA’s McClelland Hall, home of the Eller College.

What makes this advertising class different is Ackerley’s emphasis on hands-on experience. The class acts as its own mini advertising agency, separated into various departments, complete with department heads and a director of the entire organization. And each year, Ackerley gets a big name organization to “hire” the class.

The entire experience is real: the company, the jobs, and the budget. This process happens every semester, but what is unique about this particular semester is that the client who has hired the class is a former student of Ackerley’s. Rick Bailey, Eller Marketing ‘10, the owner and manager of Tucson’s U-Swirl franchise, took Ackerley’s class while he attended Eller.

Bailey describes it as “the best class of my college career. I liked it because we were able to work like we were in a business, not a class. We had a real-world experience.”

“We learn in a lot of our classes about marketing strategies and what public relations is and the 4 P’s and so on, but it’s really cool to actually try out all the things we learn,” said Kylie Beacco, who worked on the U-Swirl project during the fall semester. “We got to actually see the impact on students, and it’s really rewarding to see that hard work pay off. A couple of friends and I went to U-Swirl the night after one of our ‘promotions with commotion’ and saw a bunch of our classmates. We thought, ‘Wow, we did this!’”

U-Swirl self-serve yogurt shop interior. Photo courtesy U-Swirl.

U-Swirl self-serve yogurt shop interior.
Photo courtesy U-Swirl.

For Bailey, what he learned from the class has come full circle. Being on the other side of the project, he said, “is kind of weird, because I don’t know much more than what the students know. It’s a learning experience for all of us. But I loved it and would love to continue this kind of thing. It was nice to see how much time the students were willing to put into the project given their busy schedules. I really wanted the students to create awareness about U-Swirl more than anything, and I’d say they have definitely done that.”

Class director, Emma Tonetti, said that the semester was tough but rewarding. “It was such a great experience, and we were really excited to finish strong. Rick and the rest of the U-Swirl team was so amazing, and my classmates really worked together to create a solid marketing campaign for the frozen yogurt company.”

Bailey said that since his time out of college, he has learned a few things about the real world that most marketing students don’t always realize. “It is all about the relationships we develop that provide us with the opportunities of life.” It seems his relationship with Ackerley has already proved itself.

Learn more about the marketing undergraduate experience.